When the world’s leading dairy group takes on the world leader in food testing: according to the investigative media L’InformedLactalis is suing for more than a billion euros from the Eurofins laboratory, estimating that it did not carry out its analyzes correctly and is responsible for the scandal of salmonella contamination of infant milk in 2017.
Contacted, Lactalis indicated that it would not make “any comments on the documents appearing in the legal file”. Likewise, Eurofins did not wish to react.
Damage estimated at 1.07 billion euros
According to the specialized site, Lactalis filed a summons at the end of March with the Paris commercial court targeting two Eurofins subsidiaries (Eurofins microbiology laboratory Ouest and Eurofins NDSC Food France) and their insurers, XL Insurance and HDI Global. Lactalis considers in the summons that the two Eurofins subsidiaries are “responsible for the damage suffered (by Lactalis) resulting from the lack of detection by the latter of the contamination of the products with salmonella agona”, reports L’Informé. The dairy group estimates this damage at 1.07 billion euros.
Several dozen infants were infected at the end of 2017 in France with salmonellosis, food poisoning which can be serious in the weakest. The link was made with their consumption of a children’s product, mainly Milumel or Picot brands, from the Craon factory (Mayenne).
“We have doubts about the sensitivity of the tests”
In an interview with Les Echos in early 2018, the boss of Lactalis, Emmanuel Besnier, attacked Eurofins, without directly naming him, by questioning the reliability of the analyses: “We have systematic analyzes carried out by an external reference laboratory. He did not give us any alerts on the products,” he said. “We ask ourselves a lot of questions about the sensitivity of the analyzes carried out by this laboratory. We find it very difficult to understand how 16,000 analyzes carried out in 2017 could reveal nothing. We have doubts about the sensitivity of the tests. It’s not possible that there were zero positive tests.”
In response, the CEO of Eurofins considered that Lactalis’ defense strategy consisting of “discarding” on Eurofins was “extremely unfortunate”. He then defended the “reliability” of his analyses.
In a separate procedure, Lactalis was indicted in Februaryin particular for aggravated deception and involuntary injuries.