South African officials have been instructed to stop testing imported chicken products for listeria, says Patricia Kopane, a Democratic Alliance (DA) MP.
In a public statement on Thursday, Kopane said that she is in possession of a letter from the Chief of Environmental Health and Port Health Services, which instructs Port Health Officials to stop testing for listeria-tainted chicken products.
The letter states that Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, had identified the source of the current listeriosis outbreak at cold meat “processing plants located in the country” and no longer thinks that there is a need to do further testing.
Kopane added that it still remains unclear exactly how these factories were initially contaminated. “It is outrageous that the Health Department would stop the testing of imported meats‚ considering that just recently it was revealed that Australia has been exporting listeria contaminated products. In Brazil‚ listeria is not recognised as a notifiable disease and is a major distributor of meat products which South Africa imports. It is‚ therefore‚ vital that South Africa tests imported goods on an ongoing basis to ensure that our people are protected against any possible contamination,” she said.
“White slime” is a word that has slipped into the South African lexicon of food almost since the first cases of listeriosis broke out in the country. More and more people noticed that South African processed meat has to contain 75% of a ‘meat equivalent’.
But what exactly is white slime?
Once all the best chicken cuts have been removed and the remains have been deboned, the leftover pieces are forced through processing machines in order to create this ‘slime’. This consists of meat, bone marrows and often actual bone as well.
The SA Poultry Association says that South Africa imports millions of kilograms of white slime from Brazil each year, and costs just over R4 per kilogram.
Studies have shown that listeriosis is an under-diagnosed disease in Brazil, and therefore, it is theorised that some imported white slime may contain strains of the virus.
However, there is currently no evidence that this is the case or the cause of the virus in South Africa.
This is a letter from the Chief Director of environmental health and port health services asking regions to “cease all testing of imported meat products” because the source of the listeriosis outbreak was found within SA. https://t.co/emv8eXjA71 pic.twitter.com/nScN1uXoBq
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) April 19, 2018