Listeria Outbreak Causes Millions in Losses in South Africa

Listeria Outbreak Causes Millions in Losses in South Africa

Listeria Outbreak Causes Millions in Losses in South Africa

The announcement made by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday to recall all processed meat products following a listeriosis outbreak has caused South Africans to panic while food producers scramble to provide answers.

A key concern is that this outbreak started in a manufacturing facility owned by a large listed company, Tiger Brands (Pty) Ltd which has a good record of food manufacturing safety to date.

The company added that while a direct link between the outbreak and its Wolwehoek facility has not been confirmed, it has taken precautionary measures to suspend all of its production of Rainbow Polony brand at the facility and has also recalled all Rainbow Polony products from its entire customer base.

Zambia's High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba has ordered South African retail chain stores operating in the country to recall ready-to-eat meat products imported from that country following expert confirmation that the products were a source of Listeria bacteria.

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As a result of the outbreak, a number of retailers and a franchisor, namely Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Shoprite and South African fast-food chain owner Famous Brands, made a decision to remove all ready-to-eat meat products from shelves and outlets. Both those firms said their products were safe. Tiger Brands has a 35.7 percent market share, followed by Eskort Bacon Co-Operative with 21.8 percent.

He warned that products such as viennas, russians, frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats which are not typically cooked, could also be affected due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Motsoaledi said the disease was traced after several children presented with gastroenteritis in Soweto. Rhodes Food, RCL Foods and Astral Foods each have less than 5 percent. He announced the source of the outbreak as the Enterprise Food plant about 300 kilometers (185 miles) northeast of Pretoria. "It is devastating for me to have our products linked to this outbreak".

Woolworths supermarket has urged its customers to return any cold meat products bought from the store for a refund. RCL Foods fell more than 6 percent but later recovered to trade down just 0.5 percent at 17.11 rand. "I would rather go back to peanut butter and jam", said call centre agent Tshepo Makhura, 37. The products are also sold overseas - Zambia has demanded they be recalled there, too.

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