Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Food manufacturers linked to listeria issued with safety recall notices

Ready-to-Eat Processed Meat Source of South Africa's Listeria Outbreak Food manufacturers linked to listeria issued with safety recall notices
Melissa Porter | 05 March, 2018, 04:12

The scourge has resulted in 180 deaths so far.

That's the culprit the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has identified as the source for South Africa's listeria outbreak, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced in Johannesburg on Sunday. "They also need to say the time they are going to take to recall the product and the strategy of how consumers dispose of products".

It can contaminate a variety of food types, including meat and dairy products. This constitutes a 27% fatality rate.

In January, nine children, all from the same crèche, were admitted to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto with gastroenteritis.

Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from stools collected from one of the ill children, and from both of the polony specimens collected at the creche.

More than 16 environmental samples from the Polokwane factory tested positive for the listeriosis monocytogenes strain ST 6.

"To conclude the investigation, whole genome sequencing analysis was performed from this Enterprise factory and the results became available midnight last night". Similar tests are also being conducted at a Germiston Enterprise Foods factory after tests found listeria in several of its ready-to-eat meat products.

"Polony products have tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes but the sequence type of the isolates is not yet known".

"While we know that polony is definitely implicated, there is a risk of cross-contamination of other ready-to-eat processed meat products, either at production, distribution or retail".

Since the outbreak of the current strain of listeriosis over a year ago, the most puzzling aspect of the outbreak has been the mystery of its source.

Motsoaledi said that as of March 2, the total number of laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases had risen to 948.

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.

The breakthrough seems to have ushered in a series of more stringent regulations for manufacturers, which has been lacking, considering the fatal effects of the outbreak.

The health minister said the recall of the products did not mean people should stop adhering to food safety guidelines, like washing their hands regularly.

Compliance notices will also be issued to facilities in terms of the National Health Act. That same day, environmental health practitioners visited the crèche, collected samples from two polony brands - Enterprise and RCL - and sent them to the NICD's labs.

The public is cautioned to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat. This is because they could be cross-contaminated in shops as polony is often stored next to other ready-to-eat products.

The World Health Organisation's country representative, Rufaro Chatora, said his organisation recommended to the health department that production at the Polokwane plant be stopped entirely.

Tiger Brands has asked consumers to remove any Enterprise ready-to-eat meat products from their fridges and place in a plastic bag - away from other foods.