Update on listeria outbreak

2018-05-23 06:01

THE Government, led by the Departments of Health (DoH), Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Trade and Industry (the dti) and the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), has released a statement regarding the efforts to control and end the listeria outbreak.

. Since the identification of the source of the outbreak and recall of implicated products, the number of cases of listeria has declined drastically as evident in the latest situation report (www.nicd.ac.za).

. The recall and destruction of implicated food products, both within South Africa and internationally (those that were exported), have been closely monitored by the National Consumer Commission (NCC), the Department of Environmental Affairs and district environmental health practitioners (EHPs) in various municipalities. Certificates of destruction have been received from national and international agencies.

. Factories, which produced implicated products and ceased production on March 5, have been inspected by a team of national, provincial, district officials and World Health Organisation (WHO) food safety experts. All these factories have commenced with an extensive revision of their production processes and safety procedures. The implementation of their plans will be monitored by district officials with the support of the same inspection team to ensure adherence to national and international norms and standards regarding food safety.

. DAFF continues to liaise with international trading partners to provide reassurance that the risk of Listeria is confined to recalled products, and that all implicated products are recalled and destroyed. DAFF has rescinded the export certification of foodstuffs implicated in the outbreak.

. Imported meat and all imported products of animal origin are monitored and inspected as per existing procedures by DAFF officials for the presence of recognised pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes. However, additional testing by Port Health officials (under DoH), which was implemented as part of investigations to determine the source of the outbreak, has ceased. Locally, provincial Departments of Agriculture are also conducting inspections at abattoirs.

. Environmental Health Services at district level are being strengthened through the provision of intensive training in the assessment of food safety at production facilities and appropriate specimen collection procedures for food and environmental swabs. Training commenced in Gauteng Province on May 10.

. National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) food testing capacity has been strengthened through the employment of additional human resources, equipment and updated standard operating procedures. Specimen collection procedures have been refined.

“All the above activities are being implemented according to an emergency response plan (summary available at www.nicd.ac.za) and co-ordinated through the activities of a multisectoral incident management team supported by the WHO and funded through the Department of Health, the WHO and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases,” the statement said.

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