The listeriosis crisis has left a permanent mark on South Africa’s meat industry, particularly that of processed meat. During the height of the crisis, then-Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi reviewed the regulations that govern the minimum meat protein content requirement.

Now in April 2020, a conclusion has been reached. South Africa will be the only country in the world where there is no legislation as to what can be sold as a ‘meat’ product. Meat products will also have their protein content reduced by 20%

Processed meats such as polony may now contain ‘alternative’ proteins from insects, algae, milk, soya, wheat, fish, and crustaceans.

Concern has been raised for the country’s impoverished, who often are the largest consumers of processed meat products, as they will be paying the same amount of money for a product with a lot less nutritional value.

Up until May 2019, when the listeriosis crisis was rampant in South Africa, the meat industry had abided by regulations that were first set out in the 1930s. These regulations formed the framework of what additives were also permitted for meat.

According to IOL, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the new meat legislation will mean that the content of animal protein in meat products will be reduced from 75% to 60% in one category. A second category will have animal protein reduced from 95% to 90%.

“This news is appalling. The government has a responsibility to feed the people. With no laws in place, meat producers can add as little animal protein and as much water and chemicals as they want into their finished products. And what for? Money. This will only contribute more to the health crisis that the poor already face,” Angus McIntosh said.

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