THE outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa has finally been traced to an Enterprise Foods facility in Polokwane, Limpopo, and Rainbow Chicken Limited, reported Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
This comes after nine children under the age of five years from the same crèche, were rushed to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on January 14, where paediatricians suspected a food-born disease, including listeriosis, as the possible cause of the illness after they diagnosed all nine children with febrile gastroenteritis.
Environmental practitioners were informed of the finding and it was discovered that the children had eaten two unrelated brands of polony manufactured by Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited.
Confirmed cases of listeriosis have risen to 948, as from January 2017. The Department of Health was able to trace 659 patients and the fatality rate is sitting at 180 patients, which amounts to 27% South Africans, said Motsoaledi at a media briefing on March 4.
South Africa was reported as having nearly 750 confirmed cases by January, according to the World Health Organisation.
It is believed to be the largest outbreak of the bacterial disease yet, greater than an outbreak of the disease in 2011 when the United States had a total of 147 reported cases.
The minister said that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has been searching and speaking to patients who were affected by the bacteria to find out more about the food they had consumed.
It was then discovered that 93 of the people (85%) reported that they had eaten ready-to-eat processed products, including polony which was the most common, viennas and sausages, as well as other cold meats.
Retailers around South Africa, including Spar, Shoprite and Pick n Pay, have been releasing statements informing the public that they have removed the two implicated food brands from their fridges.
Group executive, strategy and corporate affairs of Pick n Pay Stores, David North, said: “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.”
The retailer went as far as saying that the public can return all the implicated brands of food for a full re- fund.North said that in addition, all ready-to-eat products such as polony and Russian sausages manufactured at the Rainbow facility in Sasolburg are also being withdrawn.
Pick n pay is said to be taking a further precaution by also removing the Pick n Pay No Name Brand polony from its fridges as it is manufactured by Rainbow.
“All fridges and food preparation areas in our stores will now be recleaned to prevent any cross-contamination. Recalled meat is being isolated and will be destroyed safely.
“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,” said North.
The public is advised to return all purchased foods of the brand implicated and bought at Pick n Pay stores, for a full refund, to prevent endangering their lives by contracting listeriosis.