Don't eat that polony!

2018-03-05 13:30
Parklane spar floor manager Shervin Naidoo removing some of the recalled products from the shelves.

Parklane spar floor manager Shervin Naidoo removing some of the recalled products from the shelves. (Nokuthula Khanyile)

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Enterprise Foods is pulling its polony and other processed meat products from supermarket shelves after one of its factories in Polokwane in Limpopo was identified on Sunday as the source of the world’s worst listeriosis outbreak.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said retailers must clean their fridges, meat slicers, and either remove the ready-to-eat meat products or place them in plastic bags in separate fridges — ahead of the recall.

“Any human being in the country who has these products in their fridge must take them out immediately,” he said.

Rainbow Chickens have also recalled their polony loaves after one of their factories in the Free State tested positive for listeria.

The recall affects cold meats, polony, Viennas and Russians being sold under the Enterprise and Rainbow brands, as well as the Bokkie, Renown, Lifestyle and Mieliekip brands.

Pick n Pay has also, as a precaution, removed all ready-to-eat polony and Russian sausages manufactured at the Rainbow facility in Sasolburg from its Pick n Pay and Boxer stores.

Products made by Eskort Meats and Oscar’s are not affected by the recall.

Motsoaledi said the government could now “conclude scientifically that the source of the present outbreak [of Listeria monocytogenes ST6] is the Enterprise food production facility located in Polokwane.”

Speaking at the offices of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg, he added: “Listeria has been traced to another Enterprise facility in Germiston on the East Rand, and a Rainbow Chicken facility in the Free State, but further tests are needed as the sequence type is not yet known.”

In the meantime, the National Consumer Commission has issued safety recall notices to the manufacturers and facilities and ordered them to come up with a recall plan.

“The plan must be sufficient to cover their entire distribution chain, and the facilities will also have to resource and pay for the implementation,” the minister said.

In a statement, Shoprite Checkers said they had already begun removing all ready-to-eat processed meat products produced by Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken from their perishable departments and delicatessens.

Customers will be able to return cold meats, polony, Viennas and Russians that they have at home for a full refund.

David North, group executive, strategy and corporate affairs, said Pick n Pay is also removing the products from its shelves.

“All Enterprise products (including the Bokkie, Renown, Lifestyle and Mieliekip brands) have already been recalled by the company concerned and we are urgently withdrawing them from our stores.

“In addition, all ready-to-eat products such as polony and Russian sausages manufactured at the Rainbow facility in Sasolburg are also being withdrawn ... As a precaution, Pick n Pay branded chicken polony, manufactured by Rainbow, is also being withdrawn.

“... Recalled meat is being isolated and will be safely destroyed.

“The safety of customers is always our top concern. Any customer who is concerned that they may have bought a ready-to-eat meat product linked to the outbreak can return it to our stores for a full refund.”

Mike Prentice, group marketing executive for Spar, said all its retailers had been told to remove the affected products from their stores.

“We know most of the Enterprise products that need to be removed, but we are still waiting on Rainbow for a full list,” he added.

Patricia Kopane, the DA shadow minister of health, welcomed the decision to issue all the companies involved with safety recall notices.

She also called on Motsoaledi to investigate and ensure that strict measures were in place for the food industry to curb the spread of listeriosis.

Having already claimed 180 lives, the outbreak is set to become the worst documented in global history.

Gauteng accounts for 59% of reported cases, followed by the Western Cape with 12% and KwaZulu-Natal (seven percent), the NICD confirmed.

Since July 2017 the total number of infections stands at 915 countrywide.

People at high risk include pregnant women, neonates (first 28 days of life), elderly people and those with weakened immune systems due to HIV or TB.

“The public deserves to know which specific processed meats to throw away, and how to discard of it safely — without creating another health hazard,” said Kopane.

Responding to the recall, RCL Foods said the board and management were deeply concerned about the outbreak.

The company confirmed that its Wolwehoek processing plant has taken the precautionary measure to suspend all production of the Rainbow polony brand and is in the process of recalling all Rainbow polony products from its entire customer base.

This is despite the fact that the results from testing of its polony product are still pending; and that the specific strain of the pathogen responsible for the outbreak has not been isolated to the Wolwehoek facility.

"What happened to food quality control?" ask customers

South Africans have been told not to consume “ready to eat” processed meat after the government linked a listeriosis outbreak which has killed 180 people to sausage meat made by Tiger Brands’ Enterprise brand and RCL’s Rainbow brand.

On Sunday, The Witness spoke to customers at several city retailers after the product recall was announced.

Joyce Dlamini from Ashdown, said: “It’s a relief that a source for the listeria has been found. It is very worrying because we consume all these products and don’t even know what they contain.”

Bruce Adam from Cleland said: “I thought all these products were tested before they are sold to us as consumers. Imagine what other contaminated food we might be consuming unknowingly. The health laws need to be stricter.”

Muzi Kheswa of Scottsville said he couldn’t understand how the listeria got past quality control for such a long time, adding: “From my knowledge, all batches of food are supposed to be tested before being put onto the market. If that was done surely a contaminated batch would be positive for listeria and not sold to the public.”

Joanne Smith of Woodlands 
said: “The health inspectors have failed us. Doesn’t the Department of Health conduct routine checks in all places where food is manufactured to be sold to the public? How did the health inspectors miss the listeria?”

A manager at the Checkers in Scottsville told The Witness they had removed all the affected products from the shelves immediately after the announcement was made.

“We have also alerted our customers who may have already bought the products to bring them back for a refund,” added the manager who declined to be named.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  listeriosis

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