Baby formula maker calls global recall over salmonella fears

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A drugstore employee removes baby milk boxes from the stock in Anglet, southwestern France, Monday, Dec.11, 2017.

A drugstore employee removes baby milk boxes from the stock in Anglet, southwestern France, Monday, Dec.11, 2017. (Photo: AP)

PARIS (AP) — Baby milk maker Lactalis and French authorities have ordered a global recall of millions of products over fears of salmonella bacteria contamination.

The French company, one of the world's largest dairy groups, said it was warned by health authorities in France that 26 infants have become sick since Dec. 1.

According to a list published on the French health ministry's website, the recall affects customers in countries around the world, including: Britain and Greece in Europe, Morocco and Sudan in Africa, Peru and Colombia in South America and Pakistan, Bangladesh and China in Asia. The United States, a major market for Lactalis, is not affected.

Company spokesman Michel Nalet told The Associated Press on Monday that the "precautionary" recall involves "several million" products made since mid-February.

Lactalis said in a statement that the 26 cases of infection were linked to products branded Picot SL, Pepti Junior 1, Milumel Bio 1 and Picot Riz.

Removed baby milk boxes are pictured in a drugstore in Anglet, southwestern France. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Removed baby milk boxes are pictured in a drugstore in Anglet, southwestern France. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

It said it is "sincerely sorry for the concern generated by the situation and expresses its compassion and support to the families whose children fell ill."

The symptoms of salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever. Most people recover without treatment.

The company said a possible source of the outbreak has been identified in a tower used to dry out the milk at a production site. Disinfection and cleaning measures have been put in place at the suspected site in western France.

The health scare started earlier this month when Lactalis was told that 20 infants under six months of age had been diagnosed with salmonella infection. The company ordered a first recall that has been extended to more products at the request of French authorities following new reports of infections.

Lactalis is a privately held company headquartered in Laval, western France. It has 75,000 employees in 85 countries and annual revenues of about 17 billion euros ($20 billion). Its other notable brands include President and Galbani cheeses and Parmalat milk.

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