Tiger Brands hammered as food firms scramble on listeriosis fears

Cape Town - Tiger Brands [JSE:TBS] has confirmed a full national recall of Enterprise Foods meat products after Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday announced that Enterprise’s facilities in Polokwane, Limpopo Province were the source of SA’s latest listeriosis outbreak.

Tiger Brands also announced that it has halted operations in Polokwane and Germiston, Gauteng to carry out cleaning protocols at those facilities. The company’s share price took a beating, at one stage dipping almost 13% to R370.30. By 10:06 the shares were trading 7.06% weaker at R395.00.

In note to shareholders released on Monday morning, Tiger Brands said the National Consumer Commission has ordered a national recall of Enterprise’s polony, frankfurters and smoked Russian products.

“Tiger Brands prioritises the health and safety of consumers above all else. To this end, we have, with immediate effect, undertaken a full national recall of the identified Enterprise ready-to-eat chilled processed meat product range.

“We have contacted all our customers to confirm that the recalled products are removed from their store shelves and will continue to work with authorities to ensure an effective and speedy recall,” the announcement said.

Tiger Brands said while its own tests of its facilities found a low count of listeria at less than 10 conforming units, in line with current industry guidelines, it recognises the seriousness of the outbreak that has claimed 180 lives.

“Since the confirmed outbreak of Listeriosis by the Department of Health in December 2017, the company proactively amplified its testing for Listeria of raw materials and finished goods and also introduced additional hygiene monitoring of our processes, equipment, storage and waste areas at our facilities,” said the statement.

Tiger Brands said relevant samples were sent to an external laboratory for the identification of the strain, and results are expected back on Monday.

Meanwhile RCL Foods [JSE:RCL] confirmed in a separate note to shareholders that its Wolwehoek processing plant has taken the precautionary measure to suspend all production of RCL Foods’ Rainbow Polony brand. Additionally, it is in the process of recalling all Rainbow Polony products from its entire customer base.

"Although this is sort of proactive, I think it is going to be extremely difficult to ringfence this threat.

"More players in the industry will be performing similar steps just to keep their hands clean," said Casparus Treurnicht at Gryphon Asset Management.

"Perhaps a total shutdown is the only way to eradicate the bacteria," he said.

RCL Foods traded 2.38% lower at R16.79 by 10:22 on the JSE. Astral Foods took a 2.34% knock to trade at R286.13.

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