Listeriosis source identified: Enterprise products compromised
07/03/2018 948 confirmed cases and 180 fatalities later, the mysterious case of Listeriosis that has been spreading aggressively in South Africa since 2017 has been cracked by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD.)
This past weekend, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi announced that the outbreak of the deadly food-borne illness was traced to Tiger Brands’ Enterprise’s production facility in Polokwane, Limpopo and later to it’s Germiston facility. Production has been put on hold in both plants pending the outcome of an internal set of facility tests by Tiger Brands. A Rainbow Chicken Ltd (RCL) factory in the Free State was also found to contain listeria.
After months of investigations and interviews, the NICD reported that 93 of the 109 ill interviewees said they had consumed ready-to-eat meat products. Polony, which was confirmed as the definite cause of the disease by Motsoaledi, was the most common product followed by viennas/sausages and then other cold meats.
In light of the development, Enterprise Foods as well as RCL have been issued safety recall notices by the National Consumer Commission. Both companies have initiated national recalls of their ready-to-eat meat products.
Stores like Pick n Pay, Boxer, Shoprite and Woolworths have recalled long lists of affected ready-to-eat meat products, many as a precautionary measure. Retailers have asked consumers to return affected products for a full refund, even if those products have already been opened.
Other African countries have followed suit and banned the import of processed meat from South Africa. Zambia extended the recall to fruits and vegetables and dairy products.
A little bit of humour
Although the discovery is a serious development in what is the biggest outbreak of Listeriosis of all time, Twitter somehow found a way to laugh through the pain. #AddPolonyToAMovieTitle was trending all day on Wednesday and the creativity of South Africans was, once again, on full display.
For those who have been directly affected by the outbreak, it is no laughing matter. For most however, the breakthrough comes as a relief as knowing the cause is half the solution.