Following the devastating effects of the listeriosis outbreak in December 2017, food-manufacturing giant Tiger Brands has banded together with the University of Stellenbosch to launch the country’s very first Centre for Food Safety in the country.
The outbreak left a trail of devastation in its wake, with the Western Cape recording the second-highest number of deaths as a result of the deadly bacterium.
The food manufacturer suffered a R363-million loss during the crisis after the fatal listeria monocytogenes were traced back to several of its major manufacturing plants. As a result of this, it was forced to close down three of its plants, including an abattoir.
Processed meat products were quickly recalled from supermarket shelves nationwide, while some countries banned the importing of South African meat products, including chicken, as a result.
The Centre for Food Safety will work to ensure a crisis of this magnitude does not happen again.
Speaking to 702, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Tiger brands, Mary-Jane Morifi, said that something needed to be done after a listeriosis was found at one of the company’s sites. “What we are proposing and putting forward is this holistic look that involves all of the stakeholders to ensure that there is academic research that influences policy and educates and creates awareness among citizens,” she said.
Trusted academics will make use of research gathered from the listeriosis outbreak to form policies and regulations to add to current food safety regulations.
“We at Tiger Brands complied with all the food standards and processes but we found ourselves in that situation. Clearly, something needs to be done differently,” Morifi added.