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Rush to remove products

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The Sol Plaatje Municipality could be contacted to assist with the safe disposal of the affected products

Picture: Soraya Crowie

Supermarket staff across Kimberley yesterday scurried to remove processed meat products produced by Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken, after the Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane, Limpopo, was identified as the source of the current listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.

The outbreak has claimed the lives of three people in the Northern Cape.

On Sunday the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said the number of laboratory-confirmed cases attributed to the foodborne disease now stood at 948 cases, with a fatality rate of 27%, while announcing that the source of the Listeriosis had been traced to Enterprise Foods, a company owned by Tiger Brands.

Another source of the outbreak has been traced to Rainbow Chicken food products.

It took the department and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICDD) six months to trace the origins of the outbreak, considered the biggest in the country’s history, with 180 people already dead. Cold meats include much-loved products such as viennas, russians and polony – which has been singled out as the source of the outbreak.

In supermarkets across the city yesterday customers were greeted by empty shelves in the processed food sections, with only Escort and house brand products still available.

Shoprite yesterday said supermarkets in the group had on Sunday started to remove all ready-to-eat processed meat products produced by Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken from its perishable departments and delicatessens following the announcement.

“Customers are also invited to return any Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken processed meat (cold meats like polonies, viennas, russians etc) products they have at home for a full refund,” the group said.

They added that the Shoprite Group’s housebrand and private label cold meats, sold under the Housebrand, Ritebrand and Farmer’s Deli brand names were not affected by recall notices that have been served on Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken.

Shoprite and Checkers own brands in this category are not manufactured by these two suppliers.

Supermarkets in the Shoprite Group yesterday removed all affected Enterprise processed cold meats and Rainbow chicken polony from its fridges and deli’s after the announcement by the Minister of Health, following tests linking the Listeria monocytogenes ST6 strain positively with these supplier’s manufacturing plants.

The products have been removed from shelves, isolated in stores and are being uplifted as of this morning.

Customers are invited to return any Enterprise processed cold meat products and Rainbow chicken polony in their original packaging that they have at home for a full refund. Proof of purchase is not required and opened products can also be returned.

Pick & Pay Stores Group Executive – Strategy and Corporate Affairs, David North, also said that Enterprise products had already been recalled by the company concerned and tht the supermarket group was urgently withdrawing it from their stores.

“This action is taking place in all Pick & Pay and Boxer stores.”

Woolworths has also recalled a number of viennas and cold meat products following the announcement. Woolworths said in a statement that “as an additional precautionary measure” the group was further recalling a limited number of viennas and cold meats.

Woolworths provided a full list of the ready-to-eat products customers can return for a full refund.

Prior to the discovery of the source of the outbreak, a team from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases interviewed 109 sick people to obtain details about foods they had eaten in the month before falling ill.

Ninety-three (85 percent) reported eating ready-to-eat processed meat products, of which polony was the most common, followed by viennas/sausages, and then other cold meats.

Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson, Lulu Mxekezo, yesterday confirmed that the department diagnosed six case of listeriosis since October 2017, with three deaths, (two three-day-old babies and a 70-year-old male).

She added that five of the cases were treated in Kimberley and one in Upington.

Sol Plaatje Municipality (SPM) spokesperson, Sello Matsie, yesterday called on residents to stay calm and not to panic and urged supermarkets and residents to safely dispose of recalled products and prevent the meat from ending up at the local landfill site and in rubbish bags, to avoid any person from consuming the products.

Matsie added that the SPM could be contacted to assist with the safe disposal of the affected products.