Listeriosis: Class action suit against Tiger Brands, Enterprise launched in Johannesburg court

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

A class action suit has been launched against Tiger Brands [JSE:TBS] and Enterprise Foods at the Johannesburg High Court.

The group of ten applicants, who are demanding declaratory relief as well as damages, include:

* Those who contracted but did not die as a result of Listeriosis.

* Those who (in utero) contracted but did not die as a result of Listeriosis as a result of their mothers ingesting food products originating from or having passed through the Enterprise meat processing facility at Polokwane

* Those who were dependent upon persons who died from Listeriosis

* Those who were dependent upon persons who died as a consequence of contracting the disease.

Attorney Richard Spoor said on his Facebook page that they were buoyed by Justice Dikgang Moseneke's decision in the Life Esidimeni arbitration, where he awarded constitutional damages to the families of the victims. More than 100 mentally ill patients died last year after they were moved from Life Esidimeni to 27 unlicensed NGOs.

"We are confident that we can persuade the court to follow this great jurist’s decision. Tiger Brands and Enterprise Foods have done terrible harm to the victims of the contaminated food they distributed from their Polokwane factory, to their reputation and to the Enterprise brand," he wrote. 

The bacteria infected at least a thousand cases around the country last year. At the beginning of March 183 deaths had already been reported.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that the outbreak of listeriosis had been traced to an Enterprise Foods facility.

"We can now conclude scientifically that the source of the present outbreak is the Enterprise Food production facility located in Polokwane," he said at the time at the offices of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg.

The National Consumer Commission issued safety recall notices to the affected manufacturers and facilities, and the products were recalled.

The World Health Organisation has previously announced that the listeriosis outbreak in SA was considered the largest ever. 

* Update at 14:29 on Thursday March 29: This article was updated to reflect what the ten applicants are, and comment from Richard Spoor. 

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