Listeriosis: 'It was for the children's lunches, now I have to throw it away'

2018-03-05 15:47
The Enterprise factory in Germiston, east of Johannesburg is seen. (News24)

The Enterprise factory in Germiston, east of Johannesburg is seen. (News24)

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'My trust in this brand is completely broken' - Enterprise consumer

2018-03-05 13:33

SA government has narrowed down the sources of the deadly listeriosis strain in South Africa. The recent outbreak was traced to Enterprise Food's facility in Polokwane. Operations have been suspended there and at its Germiston facility. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg - Telling his 6-year-old daughter that she would have to have peanut butter and jam, instead of polony and viennas on Monday morning, wasn't easy for a 45-year-old father.

Usually, the father of two, who asked not to be identified, alternated between hot dogs and cheese and polony.

"Today we had to make them peanut butter and jam and they are not happy. My six-year-old girl loves viennas and polony."

READ No polony: Everything we know so far about the listeriosis outbreak

The man was one of many South Africans who woke up and returned Enterprise ready-to-eat goods which he had bought as part of his groceries on Sunday.

"I usually buy viennas, cheese and polony for the children to pack for lunch."

Read what a dietitian says about processed meat vs peanut butter here: Are you fooled into buying these 'healthy' foods?

'Kids are safe'

When the man, from Lombardy West in Johannesburg, arrived at home, his wife received a WhatsApp message from her sister-in-law telling her to be careful with processed foods.

Luckily, he said, the shops have been lenient enough to allow South Africans to return the goods for a refund.

READ: Listeriosis outbreak traced to Enterprise facility in Polokwane

The man had bought white rolls because he planned to make his children hot dogs for lunch.

He said he was happy that he had not eaten the food.

"If the kids are safe then we are all safe," he said.

News24 visited various retailers, such as Spar, Pick n Pay, Checkers and a local butcher after Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday announced that the deadly Listeria bacteria had been traced to Enterprise's Polokwane facility, which manufactures products such as polony.

READ: Shoprite, Pick n Pay scramble to pull products linked to deadly listeriosis

Lawrence MacDougall, chief executive officer at Tiger Brands, said they had suspended operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane and Germiston and added that the group has halted supply to trade.

Motsoaledi announced that the disease was traced after several children presented with gastroenteritis in Soweto earlier in the week. Tests were done and it was found that they had listeriosis.

RCL foods suspended all production of its polony brand at the Wolwehoek processing plant, following Motsoaledi's announcement.

Further tests

It is also recalling all its polony brands.

MacDougall said they had contacted all customers to confirm that recalled products were removed from store shelves.

Listeria was also traced to a Rainbow Chicken facility in the Free State, but further tests were needed as the sequence type was not yet known.

The South African outbreak of listeriosis has claimed 180 lives and has been described by the World Health Organisation as the biggest documented outbreak.

Outside the local Spar, News24 spoke to University of Johannesburg student, McDonald Dodovu, 25. He questioned where the listeriosis outbreak came from.

"They must investigate the source of the disease because we are now scared to buy even normal food," he said.

When News24 visited the Spar early in the morning, some Enterprise pork sausages were still found neatly stacked on the shelves. News24 followed up and management informed the team that the items had since been removed.

At the Checkers on Barry Hertzog Avenue, News24 met Jabu Mapila, 52.

Mapila had placed boxes of fish fingers and burgers, polony and cold meat neatly in a yellow Shoprite Checkers packet.

"It was for the children's lunches, now I have to throw it away."


Enterprise products are being returned. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

He said he was shocked to hear about the disease.

Not too far from Mapila was a 61-year-old mother of three who said she had heard about the disease on Sunday.

"They said that the polony was bad so I told my children take it back to the shops."

The domestic worker in Parkhurst, who did not identify herself, expressed concern over not having a receipt for the goods purchased.

Enterprise products have been removed from shelves. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

At Impala butchery, manager Eddie Menezes said they did not stock any Enterprise or Rainbow items.

"We get our stuff from Fama Delicatessen."

Menezes, who has been a butcher since the age of 7, said he suspected that the problem was in the production line.

"Something went wrong and now they will have to destroy all the meat. They have to get the Department of Health to inspect the entire plant all over again."

He advised South Africans to go to a butcher they trusted.

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