South Africa traces deadly listeria to processed meat, issues recall

Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi updates the media on the status of the current listeriosis outbreak in the country on 8 January 2018

"In the meantime, we reaffirm our commitment to recall the identified Enterprise products as soon as possible", she said.

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), together with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have since visited the food production site in Polokwane. Such products could be cross-contaminated in shops as they are often stored next to polony.

Motsoaledi on Sunday identified polony as a definite source, but warned that sausages and cold meats not typically cooked could also be affected due to the risk of cross contamination.

Sunday's public health warning and the ready-to-eat meat recalls will likely begin to contain the outbreak, but only time will tell how quickly that occurs.

Even the Department of Basic Education has stepped in to issue urgent alerts to schools and parents over the purchase of foods such as russians, polony, sausages, viennas and other cold meats largely consumed by pupils as part of their packed lunches. "The outbreak strain, ST6, was confirmed in at least 16 environmental samples collected from this Enterprise facility", he said. It said Sunday afternoon that its tests hadn't yet confirmed the ST6 strain, which has driven the outbreak, although further tests were being conducted.

Results from the factory became available at Saturday midnight, prompting the Health Minister to hold an urgent media briefing in which he informed the public to avoid all processed meat products immediately.

"All Enterprise products. have already been recalled by the company concerned and we are urgently withdrawing them from our stores", said David North, group executive for strategy and corporate affairs at Pick n Pay Stores. "Customers who bought any Enterprise product (including Bokkie, Renown, Lifestyle, Mieliekip), or any Rainbow ready-to-eat products, e.g., polony or Russians can return the product for a full refund". At a Spar in Newtown and a Pick n Pay in Witpoortjie, products belonging to the two brands implicated were still on the shelves.

"All fridges and food preparation areas in our stores will now be re-cleaned to prevent any cross-contamination". Of these 948, a total of 659 patients have been traced and 180 of them have died.

At this time, Grocott's Mail can not confirm an outbreak of listeriosis in Grahamstown.

"The company proactively amplified its testing for listeria and can confirm that we had found a low detection of a strain of listeria in some products on 14 February but the presence of the ST6 strain [the outbreak strain] has not been confirmed by our tests".

Nationally, provincial outbreak response teams are to be created as a way to expedite and ensure proper follow through of procedures. 742 cases were reported in 2017 and 206 this year. Another said that there were no posters or signs around the facility except those urging patrons to wash their hands.

Grocott's Mail and PSAM will continue to report on this issue to our readers.

Those at high risk of developing severe disease include newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, persons with weak immunity such as HIV, Diabetes, Cancer, Chronic liver or Kidney disease.

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