RSA listeriosis outbreak traced to meat

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As a result of the outbreak, a number of retailers and a franchisor, namely Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Shoprite and South African fast-food chain owner Famous Brands, made a decision to remove all ready-to-eat meat products from shelves and outlets.

South Africa's Health Ministry said the source was found after pre-school children fell ill from eating polony products traced to processed meat producers. Of those, 659 patients have been traced and 180 of them haved died - a 27 percent fatality rate. "A recent member-survey about facilities and products tested confirmed this", he said in a statement.

SANCU urged authorities to monitor the recall process of contaminated products very carefully.

"Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from over 30 percent of the environmental samples collected from this site, which happens to be the Enterprise factory in Polokwane", Motsoaledi said.

On Sunday, Doctor Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health, along with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced that an Enterprise Foods facility is responsible for the present outbreak.

- Tiger Brands recalled Enterprise products.

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The government identified the cold meat polony as the source of the listeria poisoning - but advised consumers to avoid all ready-to-eat processed meat.

Here is what some the large supermarket chains said regarding Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken products.

In statements to reporters yesterday, Motsoaledi called on people to avoid consuming sausages and similar products that might be contaminated, and said that other facilities of the company are under investigation, and tests are being made to determine if their products contain the risky bacteria.

South African public health officials, along with three technical advisers from the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Health Organization, visited a food production facility in Polokwane and conducted extensive food and environmental sampling, according to Motsoaledi. They had gathered to demand refunds on their purchases of ready-to-eat meat products that include polony - a local version of baloney sausage - sliced ham and Frankfurter-style sausages.

The listeria bacteria is hard to test for, as it is not homogenously distributed in food. The company operates across South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda and Zambia.