SOUTH AFRICA, Pretoria. An outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that killed at least 180 individuals in South Africa has been linked to polony, a popular sausage, made at a food production facility operated by Tiger Brands, a unit of Enterprise Food.
South African Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi said traceback investigations linked the pathogen to polony made at a food production facility in the city of Polokwane. Motsoaledi said a facility operated by Rainbow Chicken Ltd. (RCL Foods) also is under investigation.
As of 2 March, South Africa’s Health Ministry has recorded 948 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis. Of that total, 180 case patients have died which represents a 27% fatality rate.
“We advise members of the public to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat,” Motsoaledi said during a 4 March media briefing. “While we know that polony is definitely implicated, there is a risk of cross-contamination of other ready-to-eat processed meat products, either at production, distribution or retail.”
Motsoaledi ordered both facilities to shut down and a recall of all retail products manufactured at three meat processing plants with strains of Listeria linked to the outbreak.
Preliminary results also show that several RTE products made at another Enterprise plant in Germiston tested positive for Listeria, but the strain is not yet known, Motsoaledi said.
In a statement, Tiger Brands said “We are all extremely concerned by listeriosis – we all want to find the source or sources of listeriosis, together with government. As a company that prioritizes the health and safety of consumers above all else, we are committed to ensuring that all Enterprise products, as identified, will be recalled as part of the directive received. We are working very closely with the officials at present to conduct the process and will provide updates to the public on this matter.” The company increased testing for Listeria and confirmed the presence of a strain of Listeria in some products.