Listeria outbreak kills 180 people in South Africa

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AFTER nearly 1 000 confirmed listeriosis cases and 180 deaths since January previous year, the source of the outbreak has been traced to an Enterprise food facility in Polokwane.

Listeria is a bacterium commonly occurs in soil, water, vegetation and in the faeces of some animals.

Shock has been felt across the city after the announcement that a strain of listeria has been linked to the Enterprise Factory Shop, a division of Tiger Brands, in Linton Jones Street.

Enterprise said in a statement that it "prioritises the health and safety of consumers above all else".

"The food served to over nine million learners daily as part of the NSNP is safe and excludes these types of meat products", the statement said.

Zambia also called on South African retail chains to also withdraw products produced at the Enterprise Food plant.

As of March 2, South Africa's Health Ministry has recorded 948 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis.

At this point in time, MacDougall said he could not confirm what the financial implications to the group would be, but did say that "the cost of withdrawal (of products) out of all the market is at a high expense".

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Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday held a press briefing at which he said the source of the outbreak had been traced to this factory, which had tested positive for the ST6 strain.

Another resident commented on how the community will have to avoid eating meat and stick to fruit and vegetables until they have more answers.

"We are very relieved that the source of this disease has been identified".

South Africa's National Consumer Commission requested Enterprise to recall the majority of its polony, smoked russians, sausages, and Rainbow mark chicken products. In addition, as a precaution, Pick n Pay branded chicken polony, manufactured by Rainbow, is also being withdrawn.

"Woolworths has a team of food scientists and technologists who proactively manage food safety in addition to our independent food safety testing and auditing, to prevent microbial contamination of food".

- Separate raw and cooked: separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods. Contamination in humans can result in flu-like illness, infection of the bloodstream and, in severe cases, infection of the brain which can prove fatal.

The South Africa listeria outbreak that has killed 180 people since January is the largest ever recorded globally, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

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