If you didn’t know how much South Africans love their polony, Russians and viennas, the sheer numbers of people returning bagfuls of them to Enterprise factories would provide a hint.The products were an indelible part of their beloved family snacks, the protein portion of their suppers, the go-to ingredients for their children’s lunch boxes and a source of income from meals sold at canteens and spaza shops.And this week, South Africans were told to remove them from their fridges and bring them back to stores for refunds because they contained bacteria that killed 183 people and made hundreds more sick.This news didn’t go down too well with many who this week continued to stream to the Enterprise polony factory in Polokwane, the centre of the listeriosis outbreak.While the company received a mandatory recall notice to withdraw three of its products – polony, frankfurters and smoked Russians – they have since withdrawn their entire range of ready-to-eat processed meats.“We’d make isishebo out of the Russians and polony for supper. Now, after hearing that they make people sick, we got afraid and I have to bring them back,” said Eunice Makadikwa (33) of Botlokwa Ga-polatla, Limpopo.“We’re going to have to eat pap and spinach or mafe (sour milk) instead,” she said as she walked into the factory shop clutching her slip proving she paid R250 for the goods on March 2.Johana Mashilo runs a canteen at a mine in Steelpoort. She shopped at the Enterprise factory shop every week and said her business had taken a huge knock as a result of the recall.“Last week Friday, I bought R10 000 worth of stock and I’ve only gotten R3 500 of it back. We’ve lost so much. We don’t even know where to start in changing our menu, because it was so popular. We’d make kotas, Russian platters and other meals. This whole thing is a disaster.”Mashilo (50) said despite the health department’s warnings about the risks posed by eating Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken polony products, some of her customers still asked for them.“The people we serve don’t have a problem. They said they still want the polony and Russians, but I just can’t do that in good conscience. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone getting sick from my food.”On Thursday, she offloaded three trunks full of products at the factory shop. However, she still had reservations about the veracity of claims that the processed meats caused illness.“Around here [Polokwane] I haven’t heard of people getting sick, so maybe it’s something else. I don’t know. Be that as it may, Enterprise must fix this because it’s also affecting our business, not just theirs.”A 65-year-old former lecturer, who asked not to be identified, walked into the factory shop with her bag packed with viennas, salami and bacon strips that she had bought there last week.“I buy these products to eat with my 16- year-old grandchild. He said he saw the news and wasn’t going to eat them. I’m a pensioner and I too am worried, because we are a vulnerable group. Fortunately, we hadn’t opened the viennas. I’m just glad that they found that there was a bug here. Every month we come here to buy and you can imagine, as a pensioner travelling from Seshego, the amount of money I spend on transport to come here,” she explained.Caroline Mazuma’s toddler son slept in his car seat as she grabbed the polony products she had brought to return. She said she was livid with the company.“I’m not happy at all. I buy these products like the normal polony and the special garlic polony for my son and he eats them as snacks. Now I don’t know if his life is in danger. It could be,” the 33-year-old said.In the wake of the consumer panic about the possible contamination of the products, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) issued guidelines on how people can protect their homes from contamination.“Listeria bacteria can ‘cross-contaminate’ other foods stored in the fridge. Therefore, all persons who have had polony and other ready-to-eat meat products from these producers in their fridge, should thoroughly clean and decontaminate their fridges, knives, cutting boards and kitchen surfaces,” it said in a statement.The NICD advised that surfaces in all kitchens and food retailers, all fridges and food processing machinery be washed thoroughly with warm water and soap. After this, they should be decontaminated with a diluted bleach solution.“Mix one teaspoon of unscented bleach to one litre of water. Flood the surface with the bleach and leave to stand for 10 minutes,” the NICD instructed.