I recently asked my younger (12 years old) sister to buy bunny chow or “Kota” at a nearby small enterprise in the township.
The shop had already declared that it doesn’t use any of the products recalled by the DOH in their preparation of meals. On her way back from the Kota Shop she was quite astonished by the behaviour and criticism of people who witnessed her buying the Kota.
Some elderly members made remarks such as, “it means these kids buy these Kota’s when we are unavailable or at work, they will get sick” and they questioned her as to who sent her to buy this Kota.
With these kind of remarks, one may develop a perception that bunny chow or kota businesses are not doing well in the country based on the current health affairs which are undesirable and directly affect their type of business. Some parents might also be feeling that their kids are unsafe when they are unavailable or at work. The question is whether one can consume other brands of products which in most cases share the same purpose and supermarket shelves as the ones that have been identified and recalled?
My name is Isaac Moroko, I am a qualified Food Technologist and currently in the Job market. I worked in various food manufacturing companies for 5 years. My field of work was in Food Microbiology, Food Safety, Hygiene, Quality Assurance, and Quality Control. While I was in university, Food Microbiology was one of my majors and have learned more about Food borne bacteria, sources, risks, severity and illnesses. I was deeply touched by current listeria outbreak as this is my field of expertise, being currently unemployed and looking for work, I decided to shed a bit of light of this issue.
Share of Light.
Listeriosis is Food Poisoning that is caused by consuming foods contaminated with a bacteria known as listeria monocytogenes. The most common food items that can be contaminated by the bacteria are raw milk, soft cheeses, vegetables, processed foods and ready-to-eat meats and smoked fish products. Listeria bacteria can be found in water and in the soil. This means that animals and vegetables can become contaminated at any time and as a result, anyone can get listeriosis.
Listeriosis affects mainly pregnant women, new-borns if the mother eats contaminated food during pregnancy, the elderly, and adults with compromised immune systems. Healthy adults and children can also be infected with L. monocytogenes. It had been reported by different media outlets that in South Africa, the first documented outbreaks of listeriosis were in 1977 and 1978 were about 14 cases were reported in the Johannesburg area. This means when the source of this bacteria is identified, corrective actions are taken and implemented then this bacteria is eliminated in that specific environment.
On whether other brands of ready-to-eat meat products can be consumed? My answer is, yes! After sampling it was discovered that other brands of products have not been found to be contaminated with Listeria. It is unfortunate that Listeria was identified with one or two of the most fast-moving consumer products of similar a type with other products. These products share same supermarket shelves and are mostly used for the same purpose which can be the cause of anxiety on consumers.
Based on my experience, I am certain that as soon as the source of this Listeriosis was discovered, other product brands which share the same shelve with the products that are implicated must have been exposed to multiple tests to ensure that they are safe for consumers, if they are unsafe, they would also be recalled. That is the reason I continue to eat the other product brands, preferably not House Brands because they could be using the same manufacturing sites as the products implicated in the recall. I believe, we shouldn’t punish other product brands and users like small enterprises simply because of one or two product brands from the same shelves were identified and recalled. Other product brands are produced in different manufacturing sites and their sources of raw materials might also be different from the product brands that have been identified and recalled.
Going forward, beware that other than Listeriosis, there are other food borne illnesses that can exist or re-exist and the risks of exposure can be reduced by following the listed measures: thoroughly cooking raw foods from animal sources, such as beef, pork or poultry and use clean utensils. Raw fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed before eating and surfaces where food is prepared should regularly be cleaned and decontaminated. We should always wash our hands on a regular basis especially before making contact with Foods.
National Diploma: Food Technology – Cape Peninsula University of Technology.