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Tuckshops in the dark

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It was business as usual at numerous tuckshops in Kimberley, with vendors seemingly oblivious to the deadly outbreak

WASTED: An Interwaste truck is seen here leaving the Enterprise Factory in Germiston, west of Johannesburg. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi / African News Agency / ANA

POLONY and the ever-popular “kota” were still being sold in tuckshops in Kimberley yesterday despite rising panic regarding the current Listeriosis outbreak.

The source of the outbreak has been identified as a production facility of Enterprise Foods in Polokwane, Limpopo.

It was business as usual at numerous tuckshops in Kimberley, with vendors seemingly oblivious to the deadly outbreak.

On Sunday, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that the source of the foodborne outbreak, that has already claimed the lives of 180 people, had been linked to an Enterprise Foods production facility in Polokwane, which produces ready-to-eat processed foods.

Polony has been identified as the common cause of the outbreak followed by sausages, viennas and other cold meats.

While supermarket shelves were by yesterday cleared of Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken processed foods, close to a dozen tuckshops visited by reporters remained oblivious to the recall of the products and continued with the sale of sliced polony, at R1 per slice and polony and/or russian kotas (at between R10 and R15 each), a staple food for many impoverished community members.

A kota, like a bunny chow, is made by hollowing out a quarter-loaf bread and then filling it with chips, polony, cheese, russians or other toppings.

Most tuck shop owners said that they had not been instructed to remove any products or been informed about the recall, while the slices of polony, an extremely popular source of daily protein for many impoverished community members, were visible in all fridges of tuck shops visited.

Residents also said that they would continue to buy polony and polony kotas, as this was the only type of meat they could afford to buy.

However, the Sol Plaatje Municipality (SPM) yesterday indicated that it would be communicating with tuckshop owners through local tuckshop forums and will also call in the help of the police in assisting thuckshop owners with the removal and safe disposal of any affected products.

SPM spokesperson, Sello Matsie, yesterday said that that while larger supermarkets would follow distribution networks to return products to suppliers, smaller shops, such as tuckshops and street food vendors, would be assisted by the SPM to dispose of any products.

Matsie said that a disposal bin would be available at the West End Club from today, where members of the public, as well as tuckshop owners could dispose safely of affected products.

Matsie added that the bins would be guarded by security officials to ensure that products do not end up “in the wrong hands”.

Matsie earlier this week urged residents not to dispose of affected products in their garbage, as vagrants or municipal dump workers could take it.

Meanwhile, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) yesterday assured parents, pupils and members of the public that there were no processed meat products used as part of the National School Nutrition Programme.

The DBE said that the food served to over nine million pupils daily as part of the NSNP was safe and excluded these types of meat products.

They did, however, call on parents and the greater school community to remain vigilant as these food items often form part of packed lunches or are sold to pupils by external food vendors outside schools or at tuckshops.

The department advised members of the public to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat.

“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. This is because Listeria, on the exterior casing (packaging) of polony, can be transferred to other products it comes into contact with, including viennas, russians, frankfurters, other sausages, and other ‘cold meat’ products that are typically not cooked before eating,” a statement said.