French baby milk formula manufacturer Lactalis has issued a global recall of hundreds of its baby milk powder products due to fears of salmonella contamination.

Health authorities in France have said that 26 infants in the county have become ill since early December.

A spokesman for the company has said that “nearly 7,000 tonnes” of product may have been contaminated, but that the company is unable to provide details regarding the quantity that has been consumed or remains on the market. The recall will affect the UK, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan. When asked if the company were aware of any cases of contamination being reported outside France, the spokesman replied: “Not as far as I am aware.”

In a statement from the economy ministry, it was raised that the measures put in place by Lactalis since 2 December were “not sufficient to manage the risk of contamination” and that a broader recall would be necessary.

The company believes the salmonella outbreak can be traced to an evaporation tower used to dry out the milk powder at a factory in northwest France.

Lactalis is one of the world’s biggest producers of dairy products and sells baby milk under the brand names Milumel, Picot, and Celi.

Michelle Victor, partner in Leigh Day’s consumer law and product safety team, said:

“We are pleased that the health authorities have stepped in and ordered a large scale recall.

“Anyone can suffer the ill-effects of salmonella, but young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are at the greatest risk of becoming severely ill.

“Consumers must be able to trust the food and ingredients they purchase, especially when purchasing food to be consumed by infants.

“We have represented a number of people who have suffered life-changing illnesses as a result of consuming food which was not fit for sale."