France should appoint a “food safety police” and increase fines on those who sell contaminated products to avoid a repeat of the salmonella outbreak at a Lactalis milk factory last year that led to dozens of babies falling ill, lawmakers said.
Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy group, had to recall more than 12 million tins of baby milk in France and around the world due to the outbreak, in a scandal that hit the reputation of France’s strategic agri-business industry in overseas markets.
France’s National Assembly launched a special enquiry into the scandal, which deepened when errors in the massive product recall left some potentially contaminated baby milk on shop shelves.
In their findings, lawmakers recommended tougher judicial and financial sanctions against food makers in case they sell a contaminated product.
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.
In the study by Yueming Zhao et al. at Key Laboratory of Dairy Science, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin China, the team developed a rapid, specific, and sensitive loop-mediated isothermal amplification technique combined with a lateral flow dipstick (LAMP-LFD) method to detect Salmonella targeting the siiA gene in powdered infant formula (PIF).
The results showed that the method of LAMP-LFD had a high diagnostic specificity of 100% for detection of Salmonella in PIF.
The results verified that the method of LAMP-LFD targeting the siiA gene is rapid, accurate, and sensitive for Salmonella detection in PIF, and that PMA shows great potential to be widely used to eliminate the amplicon contamination risk generated by the highly sensitive LAMP reaction in the detection process.
Read the report in Journal of Dairy Science