Anxiety as meat poisoning scare hits South Africa

A screengrab of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi briefing the media on the listeriosis outbreak on 4 March 2018

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced earlier that an Enterprise factory in Limpopo had been found to be the source of the outbreak of the disease.

Both companies say they have not yet quantified the cost of the national recall of their products.

Members of the public are in panic mode after processed meat products have been linked to the recent listeriosis outbreak.

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, chose to remove all ready-to-eat meat products from shelves and outlets. Further tests were done on different products at the plant, and the results showed that the listeria monocytogenes bacteria were isolated in 30% of the environmental tests.Other facilities in Germiston and Wolwehoek are suspected of also producing foods that contain the bacteria, and are being tested as well.

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

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The share price of Tiger Brands, a food retailer, manufacturer and producer of a number of food brands, including cold meats, has fallen 7.4%, to R393 a share on Monday, as at 16:51.

He warned that products such as viennas, russians, frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats which are not typically cooked, could also be affected due to the risk of cross-contamination. It is believed to have originated in an Enterprise Food factory in the northern city of Polokwane.

It was unacceptable that major food suppliers with high profile brands allowed such lapses in food safety controls, she said in a statement. Astral said it produced fresh and frozen chicken, not polonies and items linked to the outbreak.

The announcement prompted a frenzied clearing and cleaning of the shelves by local supermarkets chains Shoprite (SHPJ.J), Pick n Pay (PIKJ.J), Spar (SPPJ.J) and Woolworths (WHLJ.J), which also urged consumers to return the meats for refunds. "I would rather go back to peanut butter and jam". Standard Bank analyst Sumil Seeraj estimated the recall would cut operating profit at Tiger Brand's value added foods division by 6 percent at most. The products are also sold overseas - Zambia has demanded they be recalled there, too.

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