Baby milk maker Lactalis and French authorities have ordered a global recall of millions of products over fears of salmonella bacteria contamination.

The French company, one of the largest dairy groups in the world, said it was warned by health authorities in France that 26 infants had become sick since December 1.

Company spokesperson Michel Nalet said the “precautionary” recall both in France and abroad affected “several million” products made since mid-February.

Lactalis said the 26 cases of infection were linked to products called Picot SL, Pepti Junior 1, Milumel Bio 1 and Picot Riz.

It said it was “sincerely sorry for the concern generated by the situation and expresses its compassion and support to the families whose children fell ill".

The company said a possible source of the outbreak had been identified in a tower used to dry out the milk at a production site in May. Disinfection and cleaning measures have been put in place.

The health scare started earlier this month when Lactalis was told that 20 infants under six months of age had been diagnosed with salmonella infection.