Victims group says more Salmonella cases linked to Lactalis

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Related tags: Milk

At least 10 more children have been infected by Salmonella from Lactalis infant milk products, according to a group representing families of those affected.

L’Association des Familles Victimes du Lait Contaminé aux Salmonelles (AFVLCS) said it was aware of additional cases of babies diagnosed with salmonellosis that were not recorded by Santé Publique France.

The group met with Santé Publique France, ANSES, Direction générale de la Santé, Direction générale de l’alimentation and DGCCRF last week.

Santé Publique France said no new cases of S. Agona had been identified after 2 December.

AFVLCS also passed on a petition signed by more than 105,000 people asking for transparency in the production of infant formula. 

The outbreak has affected 39 infants: 37 in France, one in Spain confirmed by whole genome sequencing (WGS) and one in Greece based on the rare biochemical characteristic of the isolate.

Recalled product still being sold

Lactalis recalled 600 batches (more than 7,000 tonnes) of products made at a site in Craon from 15 February 2017.

The firm said contamination can be traced to an evaporation tower used to dry out milk at the factory.

A new round of action by La direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) found items subject to the recall that were still on sale.

Of 3,600 controls in 15 days it found 22 sites that had not respected the recall procedure including some large and medium-sized stores, pharmacies and retailers.

Earlier this month, a number of supermarkets failed to stop the sale of Lactalis infant milk formula subject to the recall.

Outbreak strain characteristic

Consumption of Pepti Junior de Picot, Picot SL, Picot anti-colique, Picot riz and Milumel Bio 1 sans huile de palme has been reported by parents of ill children.

Families of 37 infants have been interviewed and 18 were hospitalized but later released from hospital.

The outbreak strain has different biochemical characteristics and contrary to most Salmonella populations does not produce hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and gas after 18 hours incubation on Kligler-Hajna media.

The Craon site was linked to a S. Agona outbreak in 2005 which sickened 141 people. However, unlike the current outbreak strain, isolates from 2005 did produce H2S and gas after 18 hours of incubation.

EFSA and ECDC said most of the involved batches have not passed their expiry date.

However, broad withdrawal and/or recall measures, export bans and suspension of market distribution of these batches, implemented since December by the French competent authority and Lactalis are likely to reduce the risk of infection.

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