Listeriosis outbreak: What you need to know

Shops have started withdrawing Enterprise and Rainbow food products

Listeriosis outbreak: What you need to know

5 March 2018

Johannesburg – Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi has announced that government has narrowed down the sources of the deadly listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.

So how does this affect you and what should you do to prevent falling victim?

Here's what we know so far and what you can do.

Who are the companies affected?

Motsoaledi said the recent outbreak was traced to Enterprise's Polokwane facility. Lawrence MacDougall, Chief Executive Officer at Tiger Brands, said they had suspended operations at that facility and its Germiston facility. Listeria was also traced to a Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State, but further tests were needed as the sequence type was not yet known.

How was it traced?

Motsoaledi announced that the disease was traced after several children presented with gastroenteritis in Soweto earlier in the week. Tests were done, and it was found that they had listeriosis.

What have RCL and Tiger brands said?

RCL foods said it suspended all production of its polony brand at the Wolwehoek processing plant following the announcement by Motsoaledi. It is also recalling all of its polony brands.

MacDougall said Tiger Brands had suspended operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane and Germiston and the group has halted supply to trade. He said they had contacted all customers to confirm that recalled products were removed from store shelves.

Recall from food retail giants

Pick n Pay and Shoprite on Sunday said they would withdraw Enterprise and Rainbow food products following an announcement on listeriosis by government. In addition, all ready-to-eat products such as polony and Russian sausages manufactured at the Rainbow facility in Sasolburg were also being withdrawn.

What to look out for

Motsoaledi said polony was a definite source of the disease. However, he warned that 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.

What to do with your products

The public have been advised to 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.

How many have died

The outbreak of listeriosis is one of the largest in the world, claiming 180 lives to date.


Listeriosis: EFF warns education authorities to check pupils' food

Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has urged the Department of Basic Education to ensure that food sold to pupils does not contain ingredients such as polony, after the announcement on Sunday of the source of the listeriosis outbreak.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said the recent outbreak of the deadly Listeria bacteria had been traced to Enterprise's Polokwane facility, which manufactures products such as polony.

"We further call on school governing bodies as well as learner representative councils to impose strict controls on what gets sold in school yards and nearby shops to students," the EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

"We cannot afford to lose any life; this is a generation that has liberated our land, it must live long enough to see its true benefits."

Ndlozi said the "blame must be placed squarely" at the feet of Enterprise Food and Rainbow Chicken after Motsoaledi said the outbreak had been narrowed down to those facilities.

"They must be held accountable for spreading disease and killing people," Ndlozi said.

The South African outbreak of listeriosis has claimed 180 lives and was successfully traced after several children presented with gastroenteritis.


Meat producer Eskort calls for calm as listeriosis source identified

Cape Town - KwaZulu-Natal processed meat producer Eskort has called for calm amid Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi’s announcement that processed meat was the source of South Africa’s latest and worst listeriosis outbreak on record.

As of Sunday, the listeriosis outbreak has claimed 180 lives and hospitalised a further 1 000. The Polokwane operations of Tiger Brands’ meat producer Enterprise Foods has been identified as the source of the latest outbreak.

The latest news has caused panic among consumers, leading them to dispose of processed meat products they have already purchased including polony, viennas, ham and cold meats.

The meat producer, which has been in operation in South Africa for 101 years, said its products are not manufactured in Polokwane in the Limpopo Province, where Motsoaledi identified the source of the latest outbreak.

Eskort only has manufacturing facilities in Estcourt (KwaZulu-Natal) and Heidelberg (Gauteng), where all Eskort products are exclusively produced. Eskort continues to cooperate fully with the Department of Health and Agriculture and all tests on Eskort products have been confirmed as negative across the Eskort range of Russians, polony, viennas and bacon,” said the producer.

The company said it subjects its products and facilities to strict standards as well as external independent maintenance.

Listeriosis grows in various places, including food and soil. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases warns that those most vulnerable to listeriosis include infants, immunocompromised adults, the elderly, pregnant women and people living with HIV.

The institute warns against the consumption of the township fast food item kota, which includes polony and Russians.

The institute is also concerned as recent economic data has found that cash-strapped households are relying more on processed meats for their protein, as other meat products have become more expensive.

Listeriosis symptoms include nausea, dizziness, fever, stiffness and disorientation.