This year, South Africans have been living in fear as the listeriosis outbreak threatens lives. Although we were warned to wash fruit and vegetables in an effort to keep the food poisoning at bay, it appears the culprit is, in fact, polony.
With over 1 000 cases claiming 180 lives to date, the outbreak has been considered one of the largest in the world, reports News24.
Seen Contagion? Yeah, I also got quite excited thinking of the detective work that was required to locate the source of the foodborne disease. It’s a long process that traces the path of what those who get sick all have in common.
In this case, the bacteria was traced to an Enterprise meat factory in Polokwane, among others, which had owner Tiger Brands reeling yesterday after the news went live.
Polony has been determined as the definite source of the disease, but Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi warned that all ready-to-eat products such as Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats not typically cooked could also be affected due to the risk of cross contamination, explains Business Live.:
Scientists were led to the Enterprise Food factory after five children were admitted with food poisoning at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital from a crèche that had served Enterprise polony and Rainbow Chicken polony.
The polony tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes ST6. The strain of listeria found in a second Enterprise processed meat factory in Germiston was still being identified, Thomas said.
Now, Tiger Brands – SA’s biggest consumer foods company – has been forced to “recall of all Enterprise ready-to-eat cold meat products”.
Supply to trade, as well as suspending operations at Enterprise manufacturing facilities in both Polokwane and Germiston, has been halted:
Dr Juno Thomas, head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, said that the “food-safety programme in place [at the Enterprise Polokwane factory] is insufficient for the type of risk posed by the type of food they produce. They do a little testing but it is not sufficient.”
Tiger Brands spokeswoman Nevashnee Naicker denied the claims that safety measure were inadequate, saying that “stringent monitoring and testing protocols, including for the detection and management of pathogens, viruses and bacteria, including listeria” were in place.
So just what is this listeriosis? The basics:
Listeria is a bacterium found in soil and water and can cause food-borne disease when it contaminates food. Uncooked processed meat has frequently been linked to listeria outbreaks around the world.
It thrives in fridges and is killed by cooking.
The infection is most likely to affect pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems.
Pick n Pay and Shoprite on Sunday announced they would withdraw Enterprise and Rainbow food products:
Shortly after the media conference‚ Pick n Pay tweeted that it had begun removing “the products that may be linked to the listeriosis outbreak” from its stores.
“Customers who bought any Enterprise product (including Bokkie‚ Renown‚ Lifestyle‚ Mieliekip) or any Rainbow ready-to-eat products‚ eg polony or Russians‚ can return the product for a full refund.”
And later Checkers did the same: “We are taking swift action to remove products named by the Health Ministry as sources of listeria.
“You are most welcome to return any Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken cold meat products for a refund.”
It is highly encouraged that consumers “remove any Enterprise ready-to-eat products from their fridges and place them in a plastic bag away from other products”. Keeping them among other products could cause cross contamination.
You can either cook them and then throw them away, or return them to a store for a refund, explains Times LIVE:
Stores should refund consumers who returned the recalled products‚ partly consumed or not‚ even if they no longer had a receipt‚ said deputy consumer commissioner Thezi Mabuza.
Get this: Enterprise’s slogan is “Trusted quality since 1917”.
But it’s not the first time Tiger Brands has had to recall products:
Tiger Brands had to recall its range of Tastic Simply Delicious sauces and ready-to-eat rices in 2014 after some products tested positive for traces of banned carcinogenic colourants, including the industrial dye Sudan 1.
Their business should still survive the backlash, though. Perishables accounted for just 1,7% of Tiger Brands’s domestic food business so we’re not going to lose another big company any time soon.
As for their reputation? Yeah, not a good look.
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