South Africa’s neighbours ban meat exports due to Listeria outbreak

The government has blamed the listeria poisoning on the sausage known as polony that has killed 180 people. Image courtesy: Reuters
The government has blamed the listeria poisoning on the sausage known as polony that has killed 180 people. Image courtesy: Reuters

By CGTN’s Diana Rose Wairumbi

Processed meat from South Africa has been banned in various southern African states after the source of a food poisoning outbreak was identified.

The government has blamed the listeria poisoning on the sausage known as polony that has killed 180 people. Eating any processed meat has been advised against.

A recall of the product was ordered, causing shops to clear their shelves.

Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Botswana followed suit, suspending imports.

The Mozambican ministry of agriculture and food security “asks that all owners of establishments that commercialise these products start to withdraw from the shelves due to the danger that this constitutes to health”, it said in a statement.

It has taken South Africa more than a year to trace listeria.

In South Africa Since January 2017 it has been reported that here have been 948 cases of listeria poisoning in South Africa, according to Reuters, which the U.N. says is the largest outbreak ever.

Listeria is believed to have originated in South Africa’s northern city of Polokwane, in a factory which makes Enterprise Food products. The CEO of Tiger Brands, who owns the Enterprise label, insisted on Monday that there has been “no direct link” proved between its products and any of the 180 deaths.

Lawrence McDougall stated his firm was “being extra cautious and vigilant” and heeding to the government’s recall order.

A plant owned by a second company, RCL Foods, is also under suspicion. It has had to suspend meat production too.

Aaron Motsoaledi Health Minister warned people to “avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready to eat”.

He specifically told pregnant women to avoid any processed meat “like the plague”, reported Times Live.

According to the NHS UK, listeria can be caught from food containing listeria bacteria, or from coming in close contact with farm animals.

Unpasteurised milk or dairy products, such as camembert and brie are usually associated with the cause.

Sandwiches and pate, mainly pre-packed foods, can also contain listeria.

Symptoms of listeria include, flu-like symptoms, high temperature, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Most infected people no not display symptoms, but very young people and the elderly are vulnerable.