83 countries affected by Lactalis formula milk scandal
Besnier was speaking publicly for the first time since an outcry erupted over claims the company hid the salmonella outbreak at a plant making the product.
"We must take account the scale of this operation: more than 12 million boxes are affected," he said, adding that distributors would no longer have to sort through the produce to find the contaminated powder.
"They know that everything has to be removed from the shelves," Besnier said.
Besnier, who was summoned to the French finance ministry on Friday, promised compensation for all the families affected.
He said that the consequences of this health crisis for consumers, including babies under six months, were at the forefront of his mind. "It is for us, for me, a great concern," he told the Journal du Dimanche.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the group by families who say their children got salmonella poisoning after drinking powdered milk made by the company.
So far French officials have reported 35 cases of infants getting salmonella from the powder, while one case has been reported in Spain and another is being investigated in Greece.
An association representing victims says the authorities are underestimating the number of cases. ■