January 11, 2018 / 12:05 PM / a year ago

Contamination saga may hurt reputation of French agri-business: minister

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Virginie Beaumeunier, head of the Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control Agency (DGCCRF), are reflected on a window as they arrive at a news conference about Lactalis baby milk contamination scandal at the Bercy Finance Ministry in Paris, France, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) - Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday said the reputation of France’s agri-business industry risked being hurt after supermarkets admitted they had failed to remove potentially contaminated baby food products and deepened a health scare.

Seeking to mitigate any damage, Le Maire said the blame laid squarely on the shoulders of Lactalis, one of the world’s largest dairies, and retailers after two recalls were issued for infant formula and other products.

“This is a serious matter. There has been unacceptable behavior which should be punished,” Le Maire told a news conference.

Le Maire said he would meet French supermarket operators later on Thursday and meet Lactalis management on Friday to discuss the matter.

Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou, Dominique Vidalon and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Lough

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