For a year, a team of journalists (Marianne Kerfriden, Inès Leraud, Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal) investigated the global milk giant Lactalis for the Disclose investigative site, in partnership with “Special Envoy”, Médiapart, Brut, France Culture and The Guardian in England. The report opens with testimonies from former employees, mayors of towns bordered by dirty rivers or environmental policemen: they denounce “Thug methods” in the production of milk products or the discharge of toxic waste into nature, as well as“A certain impunity to pollute”.
Violation of the environmental code
Also relying on administrative, legal or internal documents, the Disclose investigation is severe on the practices of the global milk giant, led by Emmanuel Besnier, the founder’s grandson, without shareholders to whom to report. Two former employees believe they were dismissed for calling into question practices of “Recycling of fallen pie charts” or wetting the milk. Several elements accredit the recycling of products, moreover in part admitted by the company. According to a specialist, such practices pose health problems and prevent, for example, tracing the origin of products in the event of the presence of salmonella, as in 2017 for contaminated infant milk.
Lactalis sometimes recognizes ” an incident ”, As in 2017 when hundreds of fish were found dead in a Breton river after the spill of organic matter from one of the factories. But Disclose’s investigation shows that the milk giant has repeatedly refused to be connected to a wastewater treatment plant, while dumping its toxic waste into rivers. According to Disclose, 38 Lactalis factories (out of the 60 studied) violate the environmental code. Lactalis indicates to be “Committed to a process of progression” and having invested “60 million euros since 2010” to be cleaner.