Tainted baby milk firm to compensate victims

  Paris, France

The chief executive of France’s Lactalis group on Sunday vowed compensation for victims of salmonella-tainted baby milk as he revealed that recalls were now under way in 83 countries.

Giving his first interview in nearly 20 years, Emmanuel Besnier who heads the family-controlled company, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that the recall involved more than 12 million packages of Picot, Milumel, Celia and other brands of powdered baby milk.

Products recall

“We are going to draw the lessons from this crisis and set out an even stricter hygiene framework, in collaboration with the authorities,” he said.

The products have been subject to a recall since December, after salmonella bacteria was discovered at a factory.

Lawsuits have been filed by parents who say their children became unwell after drinking the formula.

A spokesman told the BBC that all the countries affected had been informed, in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Asked why he had not publicly addressed parents’ concerns as worries about the outbreak intensified, Besnier said: “It’s true, by nature I’m not very forthcoming.”

“In a crisis like this, we act first, and perhaps I didn’t take the necessary time to explain things.”

A total of 37 babies have fallen ill in France, health authorities said late Friday, along with a case in Spain and a suspected case in Greece, but Besnier said no new cases had been reported since December 8, a week after the recall was announced.                  -AFP/BBC

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