Listeriosis concerns continue

2018-04-03 06:01

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More business owners have come forward to express their anger after People’s Post visited local meat suppliers last week (“Meat suppliers stuffed by ‘Listeria hysteria’”, People’s Post, 27 March). Those making a living in the meat industry urged the National Department of Health to correct their media statement after misinforming the public on the listeriosis outbreak, which caused major damage to meat suppliers across the country.

“The department is only throwing statistics at us with regard to companies affected by Listeria, but they are ignoring our plea. They need to tell the public which suppliers are safe too, this after inspections,” says Tony Absalom, a meat supplier.

People’s Post attempted to get comment on the status of products across the City and the effect of this on local businesses, but Mark van der Heever, the deputy director of communication for the provincial Department of Health, said they were only able to give comment on the number of confirmed cases in the Cape Metro.

“Since January 2017 there have been 121 confirmed cases with 29 deaths. Some of these had other comorbidities and complications, so we are not sure how many were attributable to Listeria. The recalling of affected items is managed by the National Department of Health along with other role players,” he says.

The National Department of Health did not comment on the damage caused by their report after several attempts by People’ Post, but responded on Wednesday with the latest results of Listeria monocytogenes found at Rainbow Foods at the Wolwehoek production facility.

“The Ministry of Health confirms that the results of laboratory tests done on environmental samples collected from RCL Foods’ Wolwehoek production facility showed Listeria monocytogenes. Whole genome sequencing has confirmed that the strains found in the facility are not the ST6 outbreak strain, which has caused 91% of the human cases during the outbreak.

“Our findings do not in any way change what we announced on 4 March, that Listeria was found in the RCL Foods production facility in Wolwehoek. While there is no evidence of ST6 in the sampled RCL Foods retail polony products or the production facility, the presence of Listeria monocytogenes of other sequence types in retail polony chubs as well as the production facility do also cause the disease and require corrective actions and monitoring.”

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety, security and social services, says the City of Cape Town’s environmental health practitioners will assist with the recall of products following national government’s announcement of the outbreak.

“We are doing what we can to identify the source of contamination and ensure food safety across Cape Town, both at formal and informal food vendors. Listeria has been associated with certain types of foods, but it can be present in a wide range of food types. The City’s Environmental Health Department is sampling the entire fridge contents of persons who have contracted the disease in order to find the source.

“The City is now prepared to include testing for Listeria in the routine checks on food samples from food retailers,” he adds.

The City has seen a total of 47 cases of listeriosis since August 2017.

As of Wednesday 11 January, a total of 748 cases have been identified nationally since January last year, with the majority of cases being from Gauteng (61%) and the Western Cape (13%)

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