JOHANNESBURG – Poor hygienic standards have been blamed for the listeriosis outbreak that has claimed almost 200 lives in South Africa.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday said processed food manufacturers Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited had been issued with safety recall notices following an in-depth investigation by scientists into the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
Scientists had identified the Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane in Limpopo as the source of the current listeriosis strain ST6 outbreak, which has led to the deaths of more than 170 people.
Pick n Pay is the latest retailer to withdraw all listeriosis-linked food items from its shelves, including the Bokkie, Renown, Lifestyle and Mieliekip brands.
The retail chain said it would also withdraw Pick n Pay chicken polony.
The chain as well as Shoprite have promised to refund customers who return such meat products.
Motsoeledi "Any human being in this country who has these products must get rid of them urgently" #Listeriosis— African Child (@ZikhonaTshona) March 4, 2018
Preliminary results showed that several ready-to-eat processed meat products from the Enterprise facility in Germiston in Gauteng contained Listeriosis monocytogenes, but the sequence type was not yet known, Motsoaledi said.
"An investigation of the RCL Wolwehoek [near Sasolburg in the Free State] production facility is also underway. Polony products have tested positive, but the sequence types of the isolates are not ST6."
Enterprise Foods' parent company, Tiger Brands, is recalling all affected product ranges nationwide.
Pick n Pay group executive for strategy and corporate affairs David North said all fridges and food preparation areas in Pick n Pay shops would now be recleaned to prevent any cross-contamination. Recalled meat was being isolated and would be safely destroyed.
"The safety of customers is always our top concern. Any customer who is concerned that they may have bought a ready to eat meat product linked to the outbreak can return it to our stores for a full refund,” North said.
The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa says customers will get a refund when they take recalled products back.
Executive Matlou Setati said some stores have indicated customers can return the goods, even without a receipt.
Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall said food safety remained the highest priority for the company.
“We are being extra vigilant and cautious as consumer safety remains our highest priority and therefore, immediate action is being taken. Additionally, we have suspended operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities (in Polokwane and Germiston) and have halted supply to trade.”
The company was working closely with the authorities to conduct the recall.
"After consultation with the National Consumer Commission, a full communication plan - including print, radio and online communication - will be rolled out at the soonest possible time, to help us reach consumers who have Enterprise products in their home," MacDougall said.
"We will be setting up a consumer helpline to specifically assist anyone requiring more information around this recall.”