83 countries affected by Lactalis salmonella scandal: CEO

The logo of Groupe Lactalis is seen as Head of Communication & External Relations, Michel Nalet attends a press conference in Paris, in this Jan. 11, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 14 January 2018
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83 countries affected by Lactalis salmonella scandal: CEO

PARIS: A salmonella scandal at French dairy group Lactalis has affected 83 countries, where 12 million boxes of powdered baby milk are being recalled, the company’s CEO said Sunday in an interview with French media.
“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,” Emmanuel Besnier said.
Besnier, scion of the secretive family behind one of the world’s biggest dairy groups, 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.
“There are complaints and there will be an investigation with which we will fully collaborate. We never thought to act otherwise,” Besnier said.
 


Oil prices rise on Iran sanctions worries, decline in Venezuelan output

Updated 5 min 45 sec ago
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Oil prices rise on Iran sanctions worries, decline in Venezuelan output

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose on Thursday, supported by expectations the United States will re-impose sanctions against Iran, a decline in output in Venezuela and ongoing strong demand.
Brent crude oil futures were at 74.27 per barrel at 0643 GMT, up 27 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $68.19 per barrel.
Traders said markets climbed on expectations that the United States will in May re-impose sanctions against Iran, a major oil producer and member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that he expected US President Donald Trump to pull out of a deal with Iran reached in 2015, in which Iran suspended its nuclear program in return for western powers lifting crippling sanctions.
Trump will decide by May 12 whether to restore US sanctions on Tehran, which would likely result in a reduction of its oil exports.
Further pushing oil prices has been declining output in Venezuela, OPEC’s biggest producer in Latin America.
Venezuela’s crude production has fallen from almost 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2016 to around 1.5 million bpd due to political and economic turmoil.
US oil major Chevron Corp. has evacuated executives from Venezuela after two of its workers were imprisoned over a contract dispute with state-owned oil company PDVSA.
Venezuela’s plunging output and looming US sanctions against Iran come against a backdrop of strong demand, especially in Asia, the world’s biggest oil consuming region.
However, not all market indicators point toward tighter supplies.
US crude oil inventories rose by 2.2 million barrels in the week to April 20, to 429.74 million barrels. That’s almost 10 million barrels above the five-year average.
US crude production climbed by 46,000 barrels per day (bpd) on the previous week, to 10.59 bpd. That’s an increase of more than a quarter since mid-2016.
American crude oil output has overtaken that of top exporter Saudi Arabia. Only Russia currently produces more, at around 11 million bpd.
The soaring US output has made WTI crude around $6 per barrel cheaper than Brent, the international benchmark for oil prices.
Dutch bank ING said “the wide discount for WTI to Brent saw exports rising 582,000 bpd week-on-week to a record high of 2.33 million bpd.”
With US output and exports surging, some analysts warn that the 20-percent climb in Brent prices since February is starting to look overdone.
“The market does look a little toppish,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.