Tiger Brands CEO, Lawrence MacDougall, says the company has not been provided with any evidence to support that there is a direct link between the 180 listeriosis-caused deaths and the company’s products.

MacDougall gave an update on the outbreak at Tiger Brands offices in Bryanston on Monday afternoon. This comes a mere 24 hours after National Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, announced that a listeriosis outbreak had been traced to Enterprise outlets in both Polokwane and Germiston.

MacDougall admitted that low levels of the bacteria was discovered as far back as the 14 of February this year.

According to the CEO, the firm took immediate precautionary measures which included halting production of the affected products, quarantining all the affected products within their distribution centre and withdrawing the affected batch manufactured on that specific date from the market.

He said that no further tests were conducted, but after Monday’s announcement, the firm has now taken more direct action by suspending operations at both affected manufacturing centers. Supply to all retailers has also been halted, and a customer helpline has been set up. MacDougall also maintains that there are strict controls in place despite the outbreak. Testing protocols have been “tightened up” and more products have been recalled than the amount mandated by the Department of Health.

However, the CEO refuses to apologise or take any blame or apologise for the deaths caused by listeria-tainted Enterprise products, as he claims there is “no link” between the two.

“We are taking precautions to protect the consumers. There is no direct link with the deaths to our products that we are aware of at this point. Nothing,” MacDougall said.

He also adds that Tiger Brands have now take precautions to start detecting zero when testing for CFUs (colony-forming units of listeria).

Since the announcement of Tiger Brands’ implication in the listeriosis outbreak, the company’s shares dropped by a sharp 13% and traded at 6.6% lower at 9.50am in Johannesburg.

The other listeria-implicated food manufacturer Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL Foods) saw their shares decline by 1.3%.

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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.