Emmanuel Besnier says contamination was an accident and his company's response was appropriate
The CEO of the world's largest dairy products group Lactalis faced French lawmakers on Thursday for the first time since last year's contaminated baby milk scandal.
Emmanuel Besnier said the contamination of baby milk with salmonella at one of his factories in France was an accident and that his company had taken the necessary measures in response.
Lactalis had to recall millions of tins of milk worldwide after dozens of babies fell ill. Family members of the victims were incensed when the factory in question re-opened last week for the production of adult milk.
"We think this is a betrayal by the state and a ploy by Lactalis to restart production," said Quentin Guillemain a member of the victims family association, "what we need first is that they recognise their guilt, the judiciary will say whether there needs to be compensation, we don't want a settlement that would allow Lactalis to avoid facing justice."
The company was criticised for its communication during the scandal as errors during the recall meant that some potentially contaminated milk stayed on shop shelves. The parliamentary committee is due to publish a report in July while a separate judicial inquiry is also continuing into the salmonella outbreak.