JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi blasted private laboratories for delaying providing data about the listeriosis outbreak.
Almost a thousand cases of listeriosis were reported in the country.
"Those members of the community who want to litigate, we will give them all the information... all the data, we'll give all the expertise to litigate," Motsoaledi told Parliament.
The minister said companies in the food value chain who failed to adhere to South African and international food safety standards and are found culpable in the world's largest listeriosis outbreak, will be punished.
"Laws are available to take people to account and they are going to be punished in terms of the available legislation," Motsoaledi said in a debate in the National Assembly on Thursday.
He was responding to calls from MPs in opposition benches that companies be prosecuted for selling foods containing listeriosis.
Meanwhile, the EFF said it plans to launch a class court action against companies involved in the spread of the deadly bacteria listeriosis.
EFF leader Julius Malema Malema blamed the government and the National Consumer Commission for the "slow pace" of containing the spread of the bacteria.
Enterprise polony has been found to be one of the sources of the outbreak.
Tiger Brands chief executive Laurence MacDoughall refused to take responsibility for the outbreak, denying any direct links between the deaths of 180 people and its products.
MacDoughall said consumer safety was of paramount importance to the company, hence it had decided to embark on a voluntary recall of its products as part of corrective steps in response to the health department identifying processed meats as one of the sources of the food-borne virus.
- Additional reporting Reuters
African News Agency