Listeriosis fight is ongoing

2018-05-03 06:01

The City of Cape Town’s environmental health practitioners have visited nearly 4 000 formal and informal businesses since the nationwide food product recall of March.

They are continuing their efforts to help curb the spread of listeriosis, said JP Smith, Mayoral Committee member for Safety and Security; and Social Services.

City Health has been actively involved in education and awareness around the national outbreak of listeriosis last year, Smith added.

“Environmental health practitioners have also assisted with investigations into cases reported in Cape Town, including testing food samples,” Smith said.

In addition, they have increased visits to formal and informal food vendors to ensure food safety.

Since the announcement by the national Department of Health in March that several products would be recalled, environmental health practitioners were called on to visit smaller outlets to establish if traders are aware of the recall, and to record volumes of products being kept on site, said Smith.

This information, Smith explained, would then be used to aid the recall and ensure that certain identified products are removed from the shelves.

City-wide, health practitioners have visited 3 644 formal and informal business premises. They found 1 761 products on the list of recalled items and 315 food samples were taken, he said.

The campaign has also included outreach programmes at hundreds of schools, early childhood development centres and other community facilities.

“While the number of cases has slowed, we still see regular reports of persons who have contracted listeriosis,” said Smith.

“We can, therefore, not afford to drop our guard and so our staff will continue their monitoring and awareness activities.

“The public is advised to contact their nearest City Health clinic or Environmental Health office if they have any questions or concerns about listeriosis in particular, or food safety in general.”

Of the 98 cases of listeriosis reported in Cape Town:
. Two-thirds of those affected have been female
. 36 cases have been in infants younger than four weeks
. 35 cases have been in the 15 – 49 age group
. There have been 21 fatalities

Since December 2017, environmental health practitioners have investigated all 41 cases that were reported.

“The numbers are of concern,” Smith explained. To contextualise the situation, we have gone from a handful of cases on occasion in the past to nearly 200 fatalities countrywide in the last year,” Smith said.

“The City is doing all it can to ensure ongoing education and awareness, but we also urge the public to familiarise themselves with key food safety guidelines and to implement these guidelines to reduce their risk of infection.”

The five key food safety tips are:
. Wash your hands thoroughly
. Separate raw from cooked food
. Cook food thoroughly
. Store food at safe temperatures
. Use clean water and fresh food


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