Source Of The Outbreak
The outbreak was linked to sausage meat made by the biggest consumer foods group in the country. The meat, known as "Polony," is produced by Enterprise Food and RCL Foods. RCL has not been identified as a source of the outbreak but a facility owned by the company is under investigation.
The source of the outbreak is traced to a factory operated by Enterprise Foods in Polokwane, Limpopo. More than 16 environmental samples from the factory tested positive for listeriosis monocytogenes strain ST 6. Listeria has also been traced to a second enterprise facility in Gauteng.
More facilities are now being tested to determine if they also contributed to the outbreak that has already infected nearly 1,000 people.
Warning Against Consumption Of Ready-To-Eat Meat Products
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that polonies would be recalled from stores. He also advised to the public to avoid all processed ready to eat meat products warning that cross-contamination of other processed meats may have occurred in shops.
Listeria on the packaging of polony can be transferred to other products that it comes in contact with. Vienna and Russian sausages, Frankfurters, and other "cold meat" products that are typically not cooked prior to consumption pose such risk.
"Avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready to eat," Motsoaledi told journalists at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases on Sunday.
Consumers were urged to remove Enterprise ready-to-eat meat products from their fridge and place these in a plastic bag away from other foods to avoid contamination.
"If you have the products that have been recalled, take them back to the retailers and you will be refunded," The National Department of Health South Africa advised. "After removing the infected products in your fridge, wash it with water and add bleach."
Supermarkets are also taking precautionary measures.
"We are urgently withdrawing them from our stores," supermarket operator Pick n Pay said. "All fridges and food preparation areas in our stores will now be re-cleaned to prevent any cross-contamination. Recalled meat is being isolated and will be safely destroyed."
Food contaminated with listeria may not always cause illness but people with a compromised immune system may suffer from the severe illness that can be fatal. Symptoms include nausea, fever, chills, muscle aches, and diarrhea.