S/Africa identifies source of deadly listeriosis outbreak


Polony products have tested positive for L. monocytogenes, but the sequence types of the isolates are NOT ST6. Motsoaledi said it was at that stage of the investigation that officials made a decision to "visit all food-processing sites, food-packaging sites as well as food production sites where possible".

This particular strain of listeria monocytogenes that infected so many people is sequence-type 6 and was particularly "virulent".

Processed meat products such as bologna, sausages and cold meat products were listed as no-go zones by the minister.

"The National Consumer Commission has issued the manufacturer involved [Enterprise] with food recall noticesā€š" the minister said.

Most of the deaths occurred in Gauteng. While the report named water as the potential source, the claim was strongly refuted by Health Department Spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that 948 cases of listeriosis had been confirmed since Jan 1 2017, leading to 180 deaths.

Results from the factory became available at Saturday midnight, prompting the Health Minister to hold an urgent media briefing in which he informed the public to avoid all processed meat products immediately.

Tiger Brands said it was cooperating with authorities and RCL Foods said it would suspend all production of its Rainbow Polony brand.

Its own tests had found "low detection of a strain of listeria in some products" Tiger Brands said. but had not yet confirmed the ST6 strain.

Scientists had identified the Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane in Limpopo as the source of the current listeriosis strain ST6 outbreak.

North said Enterprise and Rainbow supplied a very broad range of retailers across South Africa.

"We are committed to ensuring that all Enterprise products, as identified, will be recalled as part of the directive received", it said.

RCL Foods chief legal officer Stephen Heath said the company was recalling its polony products even though test results were still pending. This action is taking place in all Pick n Pay and Boxer stores.

Rainbow Chicken polony is also a cause of listeriosis.

"All fridges and food preparation areas in our stores will now be re-cleaned to prevent any cross-contamination".

Sunday's general health cautioning and the prepared to-eat meat recalls will probably start to contain the outbreak, yet the truth will surface eventually how rapidly that happens.

South African supermarket operator Pick n Pay said it had withdrawn the products from its shelves.

Compliance notices will also be issued to facilities in terms of the National Health Act.

With the exception of the significantly higher numbers, South Africa's listeria outbreak is shockingly like Canada's involvement in 2008. Preliminary results on samples from other Enterprise plants also show Listeria contamination, but the strains have not been confirmed. 742 cases were reported in 2017 and 206 this year.

Grocott's Mail spoke to three local healthcare workers confidentially and were told that informative pamphlets about listeriosis were distributed to the community within the last month by sub-district officials.

Educational awareness campaigns are well under way and any suspected products are being recalled.

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