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France blames Lactalis, retailers in deepening baby food scare

France, seeking to limit reputational damage to its agri-business industry, threatened on Thursday the past week to impose sanctions after the country’s big supermarkets said recalled baby foods made by Lactalis had still found their way onto shop shelves.

The admissions deepened a salmonella health scare that began in early December when France’s consumer protection agency ordered the halt to sales and a global recall of products from a factory in northwest France. Three dozen children have fallen ill.

Privately-held Lactalis, which has annual sales of around 17 billion euros ($20 billion), addressed the salmonella contamination by halting operations at the factory where it started, and announced the temporary layoff of 250 workers. 

The recall included products aimed for export to some 30 countries, including to China, and overall represented more than 12 million baby food tins  was the biggest recall Lactalis had ever experienced.

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