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France's Lactalis will pay damages in salmonella scare - report

Reuters  |  PARIS 

By Richard Lough

PARIS (Reuters) - French dairy group will pay damages to families affected by a Salmonella contamination at one of its plants producing baby milk, the company's Chief Executive told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

On Friday, widened a recall to cover all infant formula made at its Craon plan, regardless of the manufacture date, in an effort to contain the fallout from a health scare that damaging France's strategic agribusiness in overseas markets.

Salmonella infections can be life-threatening and the families of three dozen children who have fallen sick in as a result of the contaminated have announced a raft of lawsuits.

"We will compensate every family which has suffered a prejudice," Besnier told the newspaper in a rare interview published on Sunday.

Besnier did not say how much the damages might amount to.

Implementing the global recall will be challenging. Privately owned Lactalis, one of the world's biggest dairies, exports its products to 83 countries across Europe, and

The recall involves up to 12 million of

"It's not easy to evaluate the number of items that need to be returned because we don't know what's been consumer already," he said.

Friday's recall was the third in a month and has come under fire for its botched response.

Besnier also told that the company had acted as quickly and efficiently as possible and denied slowing the process to curb losses.

Besnier has also been criticised for failing to speak out publicly during the salmonella scare.

While his family are France's 11th wealthiest, according to a 2017 ranking by Challenges magazine, the dairy tycoon has long shunned the public limelight and schmoozing with politicians.

His workers nickname him the "invisible man."

"We're a discreet business. In this region there is a mentality of 'work first, speak later," he said. But he acknowledged lessons had been learned during the past few weeks.

has become an industry giant, with annual sales of 17 billion euros ($20.73 billion) and 18,900 employees across some 40 countries.

He said the was likely to remain closed for several months.

The recall damaging in China, a fast-growing market for and where scares after melamine-tainted led to the deaths of six children in 2008.

That scandal caused distrust in locally produced infant formula and benefited foreign suppliers such as Nestle, and

($1 = 0.8201 euros)

(Reporting by Richard Lough; editing by Diane Craft)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 14 2018. 09:52 IST
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