Breakthrough as source of listeriosis outbreak traced

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The public is cautioned to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat.

As of 02 March 2018, a total of laboratory-confirmed cases have risen to 948, still counting from January 2017.

Motsoaledi said the recall of food products will include Enterprise and Rainbow food brands.

"The source of the present outbreak can be confirmed to be the Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane", said health minister Aaron Motsoaledi in a statement.

Both a major packaged goods company and a large supermarket chain will remove Enterprise meat products linked to the recent listeriosis outbreak from South African shelves.

"While we realize that polony is certainly ensnared, there is a danger of cross-sullying of other prepared to-eat handled meat products, either at generation, conveyance or retail", as per the minister's announcement. This is because Listeria on the exterior casing (packaging) of polony can be transferred to other products it comes into contact with, including viennas, russians, frankfurters, other sausages, and other "cold meat" products that are typically not cooked before eating. "Be that as it may, such tainting of prepared to-eat handled meat products constitutes a health chance", said Motsoaledi.

Thomas explained that even though Rainbow Food's chicken polony factory in Sasolburg had tested positive for a different strain of listeria‚ there were patients who had also got sick from this strain. "In addition, as a precaution, Pick n Pay branded chicken polony, manufactured by Rainbow, is also being withdrawn".

Investigation of the RCL Wolwehoek production facility is also underway.

National Consumer Commission deputy commissioner Thenzi Mabuza said "companies would have to come up with a plan on how they would recall all products which they must present on Monday morning". Enterprise's production plant in Polokwane returned at least 16 samples that tested positive for the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak strain known as ST6.

Of great concern at the time was that of the hundreds of laboratory confirmed listeriosis cases, less than a quarter could be traced.

In terms of registration for exports by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries DAFF, the respective processing or manufacturing establishments namely Rainbow Chicken Limited foods with an export registration number ZA32 and Enterprise foods with an export registration number ZA 33 have been temporarily suspended till further notice. He warned that two other sites could also be affected.

Educational awareness campaigns are well under way and any suspected products are being recalled.

The Health Minister reiterated his call for high risk people such as pregnant women, very young infants, elderly persons and anyone with a weakened immune system due to HIV and cancer to completely avoid all processed meats.

National Institute for Communicable Diseases Head Juno Thomas said the public can use bleach to disinfect and thoroughly clean their fridges to avoid contamination.

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