Ready to eat meat products from Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken have been recalled by Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, as the death count rose to 180 after an outbreak of Listeriosis in the country.
With a total of 948 recorded cases of the disease since January last year, the outbreak has been dubbed the worst in global history. Domestic and international distribution will be affected by the recall, said Motsoaledi.
“We have decided on the following course of action: the National Consumer Commission has this morning issued the manufacturers concerned with safety recall notices. The safety recall will affect manufacturers entire production networks both domestic and international.”
According to Motsoaledi, polony and cold meats were the source of the outbreak of Listeriosis and the contamination has been traced back to a manufacturing plant in Polokwane, Limpopo.
“A team from the National Institute for Communicable diseases has interviewed 109 ill patients about the food they have eaten in the last month before falling ill. 85 percent of these people reported eating ready to eat processed meat products of which polony was the most common, followed by viennas, sausages as well as other cold meats. The source of the present outbreak is the Enterprise food production facility located in Polokwane.”
RCL FOODS issued a statement to confirm that its Wolwehoek processing plant had suspended all production of RCL FOODS’ Rainbow Polony brand and remained “deeply concerned” about the outbreak.
“It is being treated as a crisis internally, and a senior team is in contact with all relevant stakeholders to discuss the significant impacts of this issue,” said the statement.
RCL FOODS’ Stephen Heath said that regular product and environmental testing had been strengthened as a precautionary measure in recent months.
“Rigid controls remain in place to mitigate any food safety risks, including microbiological risks, at all our food production facilities. We will continue to take every precaution to safeguard our products as well as our consumers,” said Heath.
Many supermarkets have committed to refunding customers who return read-to-eat meat products which should be contained in plastic bags. It is also advised to wipe down the fridge that stored the products.
Listorius is a bacteria that thrives in the cold and cooking meat at 70 degrees Celcius can kill it, however using utensils that touched the uncooked product can recontaminate it. Symptoms of Listeriosis include diarrhoea, muscle pain, nausea, flu symptoms and in the later stages, stiffness in the neck, headaches and convulsions.
Pregnant women and people with weakened immune-systems are at a higher risk.
The list of affected products includes polony, viennas, russians, frankfurters, cold meats and ready to eat meats.