S Africa declares end of listeria outbreak


"Whilst welcoming this, we hope that government will put into place a food safety regulatory body; staffed with people with relevant expertise from the state, civil society formations and academia; and hope that the industry, by a way of South African Meat Processors Association and related business bodies will come to the party", Fawu said in a statement late on Monday. In March this year the Listeria was traced to a ready-to-eat sausage product known as polony made by Enterprise Foods.

South Africa's Department of Health first announced the outbreak.

A total of 1,060 people contracted the disease, which is caused by bacteria from soil, water, vegetation and animal faeces which can contaminate fresh food, notably meat.

The NCID's team tasked with finding the source of the outbreak worked relentlessly for months, taking no time off, starting workdays at 05:30 and facing "hectic exhaustion".

More than 150 facilities that produce RTE meat have been inspected with food and environmental testing conducted for Listeria. However, about 10 percent of outbreak victims were infected with one of at least 19 different strains of Listeria. They expect the process will be completed by the end of September. Early investigation groups will detect outbreaks and identify affected foods early.

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"Over the last two months, the incident rate of laboratory-confirmed listeria cases has dropped to the pre-outbreak level".

According to the World Health Organisation, this outbreak was the largest recorded globally to date.

During a media briefing at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, declared that all ready-to-eat meat products are now safe for consumption.

Health officials have shared information about food safety and how to avoid Listeria for persons who are most at risk.