Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, particularly for young children, and the recall risks damaging Lactalis in China, a fast-growing market for baby food and dairy products where consumers are highly sensitive after melamine-tainted baby milk led to the deaths of six children in 2008.
"The state. had to take over from a company that failed to act, one which is exclusively responsible for the quality and safety of its products", Le Maire said.
Carrefour, E.Leclerc, Auchan and Systéme U all continued to offer Lactalis baby milk after a recall had been issued last December.
Lactalis Nutrition Santé recalled over 600 batches (more than 7,000 tonnes) of products manufactured at a factory in Craon from 15 February a year ago.
But even after that, the products were still available at supermarkets and other retailers in the country. Casino said it has sold 352 such items, according to AFP.
Industrial leaders, intermediaries and retailers must now "shed all possible light on the failings that they discovered and assure us that none of the products concerned are still on the market or in stores", Travert said.
In a sign of how seriously France is taking the issue, Macron weighed in from Italy, also promising punishment for those responsible.
According to a report published after the recall, French food safety inspectors failed to detect salmonella contamination at a plant belonging to Lactalis, three months before the company carried out a major recall of baby milk.
Officials from the national anti-fraud bureau swooped on the factory on December 2 and found the assembly line where milk is transformed into powder to be contaminated.
In a statement on Thursday, Carrefour said it had sold 434 products at risk of contamination since the December 21 recall, but that another 95,000 had been successfully removed from shelves.
The group stopped all activities at the site on 8 December and 250 of the 327 workers are subject to partial unemployment measures since the start of this week.
Salmonella symptoms include diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain, and are extremely risky for infants.
At least 35 infants in France have now been diagnosed with salmonella poisoning.
Carrefour has moved to pull all products from the infected factory and not just the 12 batches included in the government's recall order, the company said in a statement.