“Food Safety Police” Requested After French Infant Formula Outbreak
Following a massive recall of baby formula last year, French lawmakers say that “food safety police” are needed, along with increased fines for food safety violations, in an effort to stop a similar foodborne outbreak from occurring in the future, according to a Reuters report. Dozens of babies fell ill as a result of the contaminated formula.
Lactalis--a France-based dairy company--was accused of selling infant formula that was tainted with Salmonella bacteria. The recall, which included 7,000 tons (12 million containers) of product, spanned 80 countries, primarily Europe, Africa, and Asia.
A special investigation launched by the French National Assembly consisted of 35 hearings in which Lactalis’s chief executive was questioned, along with executives and senior managers from various French retail chains, unions, and inspection offices. The investigation uncovered that the initial recall did not include all of the potentially contaminated infant formula from the market, leaving more babies in harm’s way. The investigation concluded that stricter laws and punishments are necessary to ensure that food companies do not sell products that pose a health risk to consumers.
“Those who do not play by the rules must suffer the consequences: criminal and financial sanctions that will be much more important than the current ones,” says Gregory Besson-Moreau, head of the committee. By sanctions, Besson-Moreau is referring to “company turnover.” Another suggestion he brought up was an additional fee that food producers would need to pay for state-run inspections, which are allowed in the EU. These changes could spur 270 million euros annually, and create 800 new food safety jobs.
Lactalis has reportedly said that the company will “respect any new regulations." Following the Lactalis case, there has been interest in reviewing France’s current food recall process.