Lactalis the France-based maker of baby formula ordered a worldwide product recall over concerns one of its products is contaminated with salmonella.
French health authorities said that 26 infants there have become sick in December.
The recall affects Lactalis products and exports to countries that included Britain, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Sudan. It covers baby milk powder products in the hundreds that are marketed globally under the brands Celi, Milumel and Picot.
Lactalis is one of the largest dairy producers in the world. Its spokesperson Michel Nalet said in a prepared statement that close to 7,000 tons of the production might have been contaminated. However, Nalet said that the company was not able at the current time to say the amount of that possible contaminated product still remaining in the market that has been used or sits in stock.
Lactalis said it believes the outbreak of salmonella could be traced back to a tower it used to dry its milk powder in Craon, located in the northwest part of France. The tower is part one of Lactalis’ factory facilities.
All of the products there since the middle of February were recalled and Lactalis said that precautionary measures have been put into place to disinfect every piece of machinery located at that factory.
The recall increases the health scare that began at the start of December when 20 children across France who were less than six years of age became ill.
At that time, authorities said a limited recall had been issued by the company, but regulators found that the measures put into place by Lactalis to manage such a contamination risk were not enough.
Salmonella bacteria causes food poisoning and its symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. The sickness that the intestinal bacteria in farm animals causes can be dangerous for very young children, the elderly and those with immune systems that are not up to par due to a sickness or immune system deficiency.
This is nothing new for the baby formula industry. It has been hit by health scares in the past. In 2008, six babies died, while another 300,000 became ill after baby formula makers in China added melamine, an industrial chemical, to infant powdered milk products.
Authorities in France announced that more information on the number of children reportedly ill will be released as soon as it was made available.