UK escapes Lactalis salmonella scare

13 December 2017

No UK products have been affected by the salmonella scare that has led to a global recall of more than 600 Lactalis infant formula products, according to the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Lactalis McLelland.

French firm Lactalis is one the biggest dairy groups in the world. As well as baby milk, it produces cheeses, regular milk, cream, and butter under many different brand names. 

The French government’s consumer protection agency DGCCRF first reported an outbreak of salmonella traced to Lacatis products manufactured in Craon, northwest France last week. 

The DGCCRF said so far, a total of 26 French children have been reported ill from the outbreak of the agona strain of salmonella, with Bruno Le Marie, the French minister for the economy and finance adding that Lactalis’ initial efforts to contain the outbreak “were not likely to control the risk of contamination”.

The 26 cases of infection were linked to products called Picot SL, Pepti Junior 1, Milumel Bio 1 and Picot Riz. 

As a result, the initial recall of 12 products was extended to a total of 620 products with use by dates ranging from 2018 to 2020 earlier this week.

Products have been withdrawn from sales across France and banned from export as part of the updated order. 

Mark Taylor, Lactalis Group managing director, said a handful of products sold under the supplier’s French brands are available on UK websites such as Amazon but despite initial media reports linking the recall to the UK, no products sold through Lacralis’ UK division Lactalis McLelland had been affected by the outbreak.

“None of the products in our supply chain have been affected, so our customers and consumers can be assured we have not been impacted by this quality issue,” he said. 

A spokesman for the FSA echoed Taylor’s comments and confirmed the UK had not been affected by the outbreak.

“The FA is aware of the international recall of Lactalis baby milk. We have contected the relevant authorities to establish whether any of the affected produced have been distributed to the UK,” he said.

“We have not been informed that the UK has received any of the affected products to there has been no recall issued.” 

Countries affected include Greece, Morocco, Sudan, Peru, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China.

Michel Nalet, Lactlis spokesman, said the global recall has affected around 7,000 tonnes of product but the was unable to say how much product remained on the market, how much had been consumed or how much was still in stock. 

Meanwhile, an annual report on zoonotic diseases has found that the declining trend of salmonellosis cases in the EU has levelled off.

The report, by the European Centre for Disease Prevention Control and the European Food Safety Authority, found cases of salmonella enteridis in the EU has increased in humans by 3% since 2014.

It said there were 94,530 human cases of salmonesllosis reported in the EU in 2016 and salmonella enterdis, the most widespread type of salmonella, accounted for 59% of all salmonellosis cases originating in the EU.

The report added that the cases were mostly associated with the consumption of egg, egg products and poultry meat.

Mike Catchpole, ECDC’s chief scientist, said: “The increase shown by our surveillance data is worrying and a reminder that we have to stay vigilant. 

“Even in a state of high awareness and with national control programmes for Salmonella Enteridis in place, there is a need for continuing risk management actions at the member state and EU level.”

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