Panic has ensued after the  National Department of Health issued a warning to the public to avoid all processed meat products due to a listeriosis outbreak.

Listeria is a bacterium which is commonly found in soil, vegetation and the faeces of some animals. The bacterium is able to contaminate a large variety of foods, such as meat and meat products, dairy products, frozen and fresh produce, as well as ready-to-eat products (processed meats).

According to Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, the most recent listeriosis outbreak was narrowed down to Enterprise’s Polokwane facility. Operations have been suspended at this facility, as well as the Germiston facility.

Listeria has also been traced to a Rainbow Chicken facility in the Free State. Testing at this facility is being conducted to deduce which sequence type of listeria has contaminated the food products there. RCL Foods has also suspended all production of its polony brands. Its Wolwehoek production plant has been suspended pending testing.

Tiger Brands has also contacted all retailers to advise that all their processed food products be recalled from shelves, and also conducted follow-up procedures to ensure that the products have already been recalled from shelves.

Pick n Pay and Woolworths have been pegged as sources in selling listeria-contaminated food, with Pick n Pay’s David North saying that all products produced by the identified manufacturing sites have been immediately recalled.

According to the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, customers will get a refund when they return recalled products to the supermarket the goods were purchased from. Deputy commissioner of the National Consumer Council Thenzi Mabuza has also stated that the companies will have to report to the Council by Monday morning on how they plan to go about recalling contaminated food items.

“They also need to let us know which other products were made in the factories and could have been contaminated by listeria bacteria. They also need to say the time they are going to take to recall the product and the strategy of how consumers dispose of products.”

This listeria outbreak has claimed the lives of 180 people since January of 2017 and has left 940 affected, with the majority of deaths occurring in the Gauteng province. The Western Cape has the second-highest number of recorded cases of listeria in the country.

The disease was traced after several children in Soweto became ill with what was assumed to be gastroenteritis earlier last week. After tests were conducted, it proved that the children were ill with listeriosis.

List from Woolworths of foods that could possibly be contaminated:

WAFERTHIN CHARGRILLED HAM 125G
WAFERTHIN ROASTED CHICKEN 125G
WAFERTHIN SMOKED HAM 125G
WAFERTHIN COOKED HAM 125G
WAFERTHIN SMOKED CHICKEN 125G
500G SMOKED VIENNAS
1KG SMOKED VIENNAS
500G RED VIENNAS
1KG RED VIENNAS
375g COCKTAIL VIENNAS
125G SMOKED CHEESY VIENNAS
400G BULK SALAMI STICKS
150G SALAMI STICKS
85G PLAIN SALAMI STICKS
85G SPICY SALAMI STICKS
60G PLAIN SALAMI BITES
150G SPICY SALAMI STICKS
85G CORIANDER SALAMI
60G SPICY SALAMI BITES
250G SMOKED AND ROASTED GAMMON
SLICED LEAN HAM 125G
SLICED COOKED HAM 250G
SLICED COOKED HAM 125G
250G HAM SELECTION 9932
250G ASSORTED COLD MEAT
200G SLICED SALAMI
100G SALAMI
100G GERMAN SALAMI
100G SLICED PEPPERED SALAMI
LOCAL CHORIZO
100G SPICY SALAMI
125G COUNTRY HAM

Motsoaledi has also urged anyone who has purchased Enterprise or Rainbow Chicken products not only to throw the products away, but also to thoroughly clean their refrigerators to avoid cross-contamination.

It is advised that those who have the following symptoms seek medical attention:

  • Vomiting (which is sometimes preceded by diarrhea)
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • General weakness
  • Stiff neck

When caught early, listeria can be cured within seven days. Those with compromised immune systems, infants, elderly and pregnant women require urgent medical. This involves either being treated with fluids through an IV drip or a course of antibiotics.

The majority of people infected by Listeria recover within seven days. However, those with a compromised immune system, older adults, infants or pregnant women require urgent medical care – treatment involves either a course of antibiotics or fluids through an IV drip.

A mild listeriosis infection can be treated at home with the following:

  • Tea
  • Clear fluids
  • The BRAT diet which includes bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast.
  • Other bland foods that will not irritate the stomach
  • Plenty of bed rest

When disposing of listeria-contaminated foods, do so safely. It is advised that these foods be wrapped in separate packaging, such as plastic bags, when being disposed of. Be cautious when throwing away possibly contaminated foods, as those who riffle through your waste may consume them.

Picture: Unsplash

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.