South African Listeria outbreak traced to RTE processed meat

Lynette PayneMar 05, 2018

Widely popular processed meats which are a part of the staple diet of many poor South Africans have been named as the source of the killer outbreak.

After the health minister's announcement, many South African supermarkets moved immediately to remove any suspect ready-to-eat meats from their coolers. Motsoaledi urged anyone who has purchased Enterprise or Rainbow Chicken products to throw them away and clean out their fridges to avoid cross-contamination.

The outbreak has caused 180 fatalities and 948 reported cases since January 2017.

This is what most of the patients in the outbreak that killed 180 people were infected with.

Tiger Brands has upgraded testing for listeria and introduced additional hygiene monitoring since the confirmed outbreak in December 2017, the company said.

Of the victims who have been interviewed, 93 of them, representing 85 percent, remember eating ready-to-eat (RTE) processed meat products.

By Jan. 27, NICD had found the same Listeria monocytogenes ST6 strain in Enterprise and RCL products as had been found in stool samples from the ill children.

Tiger Brands spokeswoman Nevashnee Naicker said: "We are all extremely concerned by listeriosis - we all want to find the source or sources of listeriosis, together with the government".

"To conclude the investigation, whole genome sequencing analysis was performed from this Enterprise factory and the results became available midnight last night". The outbreak strain, ST6, was confirmed in at least 16 environmental samples collected from this Enterprise facility. This is why Rainbow Chicken polony was being recalled.

Motsoaledi said that people at risk such as pregnant women‚ those with HIV and those with weakened immune systems had to avoid all ready-to-eat products such as viennas‚ polony and frankfurters.

Food Lover's Market said in a tweet that it will be removing products that may be linked to the listeriosis outbreak from their stores.

Motsoaledi highlighted that in January, nine children under the age of five were rushed to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital due to febrile gastroenteritis, an intestinal infection.

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

Motsoaledi said the National Consumer Commission has issued safety recall notices to the affected manufacturers and facilities, and the companies are now responsible for coming up with the recall plan. "They have, as of this morning, been issued with safety recall notices according to Section 60 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act", said dti Director General Lionel October.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) also said that Enterprise facility in Germiston on the East Rand, and a Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State could also be carriers of the virus, but further tests were needed. The public is warned that foods such as polony are implicated, with a probable chance that this may contaminate other ready-to-eat foods.

"The safety recall will affect the manufacturers' entire distribution networks, both domestic and worldwide", he added.

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