The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has issued a recall of all products from the Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited companies. Tests on samples from those factories have been found to have traces of the Listeria bacteria, a cause of food poisoning. Pick n Pay, along with other supermarket chains, has acted swiftly to withdraw all products from Enterprise and RCL from its shelves.
“Given the findings of Listeria, it is clear that there has been a drop in the quality controls at these facilities. They have, as of this morning, been issued with safety recall notices according to Section 60(2) of the Consumer Protection Act,” said dti Director General Lionel October.
Results which came in at midnight confirmed that polony from the Enterprise facility was the cause of the current Listeriosis outbreak, prompting Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to call an urgent press briefing.
While Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL), tested positive for Listeria, its samples did not test positive for the strain ST6, which is the cause of the outbreak. Nonetheless, it would also be pulled from the shelves as it posed a health risk, October said.
Motsoaledi said, “Such contamination of ready-to-eat processed meat products constitutes a health risk. Also, over 10% of environmental samples collected by the EHPs at this facility have tested positive for L. Monocytogenes.”
The Health Department issued a recall of these cold meat products from Enterprise and RCL.
“The National Consumer Commission has, in terms of Section 60(2) of the Consumer Protection Act, this morning issued manufacturers concerned with safety recall notices,” said Motsoaledi.
Last week Grocott’s Mail reported that one listeriosis-linked death in Grahamstown had been confirmed by the Eastern Cape Department of Health. This information followed public news from Sarah Baartman District Municipality that stated two deaths had occurred in Grahamstown as a result of the bacteria. While the report named water as the potential source, the claim was strongly refuted by Health Department Spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo.
At today’s press briefing, Motsoaledi said, “The source of the present outbreak can be confirmed to be the Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane.”
Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), together with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), and officials from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) had visited the food production site in Polokwane.
Results from this factory became available at midnight, prompting the Health Minister to hold an urgent media briefing in which he informed the public to avoid all processed meat products immediately.
“While we know that polony is definitely implicated, there is a risk of cross-contamination of other ready-to-eat processed meat products, either at production, distribution or retail. We advise members of the public to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat,” said the Minister.
Processed meat products such as polony, viennas, russians, frankfurters, sausages and cold meat products were listed as no-go zones by the Minister.
The cause of the outbreak strain ST6 was confirmed in 16 environmental samples collected from the Enterprise facility.
In addition to the Polokwane facility, another Enterprise facility located in Germiston, Gauteng, tested positive for Listeria but it is yet to be confirmed if it is the same ST6 strain.
Pick n Pay said following Motsoaledi’s announcement, they had acted immediately to withdraw all products from the manufacturing sites identified by the Department of Health.
“Enterprise and Rainbow supply a very broad range of retailers across South Africa,” the national retailer said in a statement. “All Enterprise products (including the Bokkie, Renown, Lifestyle and Mieliekip brands) have already been recalled by the company concerned and we are urgently withdrawing them from our stores.
“In addition, all ready-to-eat products such as polony and russian sausages manufactured at the Rainbow facility in Sasolburg are also being withdrawn. This action is taking place in all Pick n Pay and Boxer stores. In addition, as a precaution, Pick n Pay branded chicken polony, manufactured by Rainbow, is also being withdrawn.”
The retailer said all fridges and food preparation areas in our stores would be re-cleaned to prevent any cross-contamination.
“Recalled meat is being isolated and will be safely destroyed.”
Any customer concerned that they may have bought a ready-to-eat meat product linked to the outbreak could return it to their stores for a full refund, Pick n Pay said.
Similar action by Shoprite was reported on ENCA https://www.enca.com/south-africa/tiger-brands-shoprite-remove-listeriosis-products
Listeriosis control and monitoring in Grahamstown
Together with the Public Service Accountability Monitoring (PSAM) Grocott’s Mail has attempted to get clarity from the Makana Sub-District of the Eastern Cape Department of Health on monitoring and containment of listeriosis in Makana, as well as further confirmation of cases.
According to the National Department of Health’s “Clinical Guidelines on Management and Control of Foodborne Diseases” issued in 2011 an outbreak is defined as “two or more linked patients presenting with acute gastrointestinal, neurological, hepatic or hemorrhagic manifestation after having a shared/common meal/beverage during the past 72 hours.”
At this time, Grocott’s Mail cannot confirm an outbreak of listeriosis in Grahamstown.
Though the Clinical Guidelines state that two linked patients must have consumed the contaminated source within 72 hours of expressing symptoms, infections like listeriosis are exceptions.
Nationally, provincial outbreak response teams are to be created as a way to expedite and ensure proper follow through of procedures. PSAM nor Grocott’s Mail found evidence to suggest the Eastern Cape had an outbreak response team.
In 2017, 557 cases were reported across all nine provinces, with 62 percent from Gauteng. As of 16 January, 764 cases had been reported nationally with 212 in Johannesburg.
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. One source stated that they did not believe healthcare workers at the facility had been educated about listeriosis or the correct reporting procedures. Another said that there were no posters or signs around the facility except those urging patrons to wash their hands.
The Eastern Cape Department of Health was approached regarding public awareness and education efforts but have not yet commented at this time.
The reported claim that the Grahamstown case was a result of drinking contaminated water (Sarah Baartman News) has not been confirmed and was strongly denied by Kupelo.
Grocott’s Mail and PSAM will continue to report on this issue to our readers.
• Reporting in partnership with PSAM.
Reduce the risk of listeriosis infection
The Health Minister reiterated his call for high risk people such as pregnant women, very young infants, elderly persons and anyone with a weakened immune system due to HIV and cancer to completely avoid all processed meats. “The recall of these products does not mean that members of the public must now relax and stop following food safety rules,” said Motsoaledi.
General food safety rules advised by the Health Department include:
* Wash your hands before handling food or when coming back from the bathroom.
* Cook food thoroughly.
* Separate raw food from cooked food.
* Store food at an appropriate temperature.
* Wash uncooked food with clean running water.
* Only use pasteurised or boiled milk products.
National Institute for Communicable Diseases Head Juno Thomas said the public can use bleach to disinfect and thoroughly clean their fridges to avoid contamination.
Visit the Department of Health website for more information on food-borne disease and how to prevent it.
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