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TATEMENT BY MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY; AND SOCIAL SERVICES, ALDERMAN JP SMITH

The City of Cape Town’s environmental health practitioners will assist with the recall of products following National Government’s announcement that the source of the listeriosis outbreak has been identified.

Investigations have identified the Enterprise ® production plant in Polokwane as the source. The Enterprise ® processing plant in Gauteng and the Rainbow Chickens ® processing plant in Sasolburg have not been definitively implicated. However, as a precaution their products are also being recalled as the listeria pathogen was detected, but not the strain that is the cause of the current outbreak. The National Department of Health has released a cautionary notice indicating that persons at risk of listeriosis should not consume polony, viennas or other processed meats from these plants. Shops have been requested to withdraw Enterprise ® and Rainbow Chickens ® products and consumers may return these products to most large retailers for a full refund.

In the event of a recall, the manufacturer notifies the public via the media and also interacts through the supply chain route with their merchandisers, retailers, etc. The communication channels between the major retailers and wholesale outlets are usually very well established. One can already see the notices that they have put up and the fact that the products were removed from the shelves almost immediately. It is the smaller shops such as general dealers, house shops and spaza shops that are more difficult to reach. Many wholesalers do communicate with their smaller customers via electronic media and that will also assist.The City’s environmental health practitioners will visit smaller outlets to establish if they are aware of the recall and to record volumes of product being kept on site. This information can then be used to aid the recall and ensure that the identified products are removed from the shelves. City Health will also visit fast food outlets and other food traders and will continue with its education and awareness campaign around personal hygiene, food safety and other risks to human health.

Over the past year, there have been 948 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis in South Africa; and 88 of these have been reported in the Cape metro. Listeriosis is a serious disease caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It is transmitted to persons through the ingestion of contaminated food products.

It is important to note that most people who consume food products contaminated with listeria will not get sick and will remain asymptomatic. In those who do become ill, most will develop self-limiting fever and diarrhoea. However, persons at high risk of developing severe disease include pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly, persons with underlying conditions such as diabetes, cancer, chronic liver or kidney disease, and persons with weakened immune systems due to HIV or chemotherapy.

Recommendations:

· Avoid all processed and ready-to-eat meat products if pregnant, in young infants, elderly persons and anyone who has a weakened immune system

· Enterprise ® branded processed meat should not be consumed. If you have any such products at home, please return them to the place of purchase for safe disposal and you should receive a refund for the purchase

· Clean all fridges, machinery, cutlery and work surfaces such as cutting boards that may have been exposed to such products. A solution of one teaspoon unscented bleach to one litre of water can be used to disinfect the affected areas. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Take apart the cutting machinery and soak it in bleach so that the bleach gets everywhere – into all the cracks. It is important to clean refrigerators regularly, wash hands, kitchen surfaces and dishcloths often. This also applies to communal fridges in the workplace

City Health also reminds the public to always keep the 5 food safety rules top of mind, namely:

· Keep clean: wash your hands before handling food

· Cook food thoroughly

· Separate raw food from cooked food

· Make sure that cooked food is kept at an appropriate temperature

· Use safe water to wash non-cooked food and only use pasteurised or boiled milk products

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