The listeriosis crisis that broke out last December 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 and leaving food manufacturing giant Tigerbrands nursing wounds.
Tigerbrands suffered a R363-million loss during the crisis after it emerged that the fatal listeria monocytogenes were traced back to several of its major manufacturing plants. As a result of this, the manufacturer of processed food had to close down three of its plants, including an abattoir.
Processed meat products were recalled from supermarket shelves across the country, and some countries banned the importing of South African meat products, including chicken, as a result.
During a media briefing at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, declared that all ready-to-eat meat products are now safe for consumption.
No new cases have been reported over the past three months – South Africa is now officially free of listeria.
“Over the last two months, the incident rate of laboratory-confirmed listeria cases has dropped to the pre-outbreak level. Therefore, the conclusion is that the outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa is over,” Motsoaledi said.
The country’s food manufacturers must now all undergo stricter food control mechanisms, as Motsoaledi stated that a number of regulators and departments have reviewed their food security mechanisms after the outbreak.
— SA Gov News (@SAgovnews) September 3, 2018
“Almost 900 environmental health practitioners in every health district in South Africa have been re-trained in factory inspections, food safety systems and testing of factories for Listeria.”
The health minister also addressed the recent allegations of ‘fake food’ being sold by some food retailers in parts of the country, saying that his department has not yet received any evidence of this.
If you or anyone you know has any information regarding the so-called fake foods, please contact the department on 0113862003/6 and the National Consumer Commission on 0124287000 during office hours.