- Death toll rises in SA
- No local cases yet
- Local supermarkets not hit by deadly listeriosis…yet
Botswana’s franchise supermarkets are also facing a major business risk as they are forced to withdraw most pre-packed food products from the shelves following the world’s largest outbreak of Listeria where 948 cases were detected and 180 deaths reported, by South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
The Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Richard Matlhare issued a press statement yesterday instructing a product recall of ready to eat meat associated with listeriosis outbreak in South Africa with immediate effect.
He said that all the products cold meat products associated with Enterprise Foods must be returned Supermakets, Shops, distributors, transporters and importers, and a refund issued to customers.
Manager at Shoprite Botswana Kgosi Shashani says they were alerted on Sunday by the retail group that a decision was taken to remove the products produced by Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken from its perishable and delis departments where the outbreak is much more severe. “Although we do not have any reports yet we saw it as a precautionary measure to remove our products from the stores since the matter is still developing,” he said.
South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Sunday that polony was a ‘definite’ source of listeria. He however warned that products such as Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats not typically cooked could also be affected due to the risk of cross contamination.
Pick N Pay Botswana General Manager, Sallies Botha issued a statement yesterday stating that they were removing, “products that may be linked to the listeriosis outbreak from our stores. Customers who bought any Enterprise product (i.e Bokkie, Renown, Lifestyle, Mieliekip), or any Rainbow ready-to-eat products eg. Polony or Russians can return the product for a full refund,” their statement said.
Woolworths Group also promised to recall all cold meats associated with the outbreak and said they would issue refunds to their customers.
The Manager of Food Lovers Botswana told Gazette Business that his stores do not import any meat product as they are all processed in-store or at the Lobatse Meat Market. “We oversee the meat market as well for quality and health processes so we cannot get affected by the outbreak yet since our products are locally produced,” he explained.
Game Stores say they do not import anything from Tiger Brands subsidiary, Enterprise Foods factory, the reported main source of the dangerous food-borne disease in Polokwane.
Botswana Ministry of Health Spokesperson Wada Motsamai says there has been no official government statement yet regarding the deadly outbreak.
She however stated that they are still engaging other stakeholder ministries to take a position. In a statement by government in December when the first outbreak was reported, the ministry had warned that 557 labs confirmed the cases while 36 deaths were reported in South African provinces. The statement said that Gauteng had the most cases (62%) and Western Cape reports were at (17%).
The ministry had advised travellers to eat hygienically prepared food, properly packed and well-cooked foods and maximization of personal hygiene during feeding.
Tiger Brands committed to ensuring that all enterprise products, as identified, will be recalled.
“We are working very closely with the officials at present to conduct the process and will provide updates to the public on this matter,” said spokesperson Nevashnee Naicker in a public statement. She added that the company is also conducting its own Listeria tests.
The South African government is reportedly carrying out more tests in facilities such as an Enterprise Foods factory in Germiston on the East Rand, and a Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State.
Listeria is the name of a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle. It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk. It can also live in food processing plants and contaminate a variety of processed meats.
Pregnant women, neonates, elderly people and anyone with weakened systems are at particular risk.
Listeriosis caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, can contaminate animal products and fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables.