Listeriosis outbreak: Everything you need to know

Listeriosis outbreak: Everything you need to know

- Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed the Listeriosis outbreak can be traced to an Enterprise production line, a Rainbow Chicken facility is also under suspicion

- Pick n Pay, Spar, Shoprite and Woolworths have confirmed have pulled all Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken products from their shelves

- Most people will remain healthy even if they ate contaminated food, Listeriosis mostly affects people with weakened immune systems‚ the elderly‚ pregnant women and babies in the womb

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The current Listeriosis outbreak is the biggest recorded outbreak ever recorded in the world. At 180 people have died from the disease since January 2017 and more than 970 cases have been confirmed.

On Sunday Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed the current outbreak could be traced to an Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane, a second facility in Germiston as well as a Rainbow Chicken facility in the Free State are also under suspicion.

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Motsoaledi said the Germiston and Free State facility required further testing because the sequence type found in these facilities was unknown.

Briefly.co.za brings you a comprehensive guide about everything you need to know about the outbreak, which foods have been affected, what measures the manufacturers are taking, what steps retailers are taking, symptoms to look out for and importantly information to help you make an informed decision instead of panicking.

How was the disease traced?

Motsoaledi announced a breakthrough in the case after several children in Soweto were hospitalised with gastroenteritis-like symptoms. Tests confirmed the children had contracted Listeriosis.

The problems at the Enterprise food factory in Polokwane

Health inspectors from the municipality, department of health and three World Health Organisation experts conducted tests at the facility on 2 February. Shockingly 16 out of 300 samples tested positive to the strain which has caused 91% of fatalities.

30% of all samples tested positive for other strains which are known to cause food-borne illness. 85% of people who contracted the disease confirmed that they ate polony or other ready-to-eat meat products.

You don’t need to panic even if you ate contaminated food

Listeriosis mostly affects people with weakened immune systems‚ the elderly‚ pregnant women and babies in the womb. Health professionals and experts say the vast majority of people will suffer no symptoms or illness even if they ate contaminated food.

Symptoms include stomach problems, fever and diarrhoea.

Which products should you avoid?

Polony, Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters, other sausage and cold meats which typically have not been cooked. The very young, over 65’s and pregnant have been warned to avoid all ready-to-eat meat products.

Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken have issued a nationwide recall of products which are known or suspected of being carriers.

What should you do with products you may already have purchased?

All suspected products should be removed and placed in a separate plastic packet. These food items should be returned to the retailer or destroyed in a safe manner.

Fridges, knives, meat slicers and any surface or item which came into contact with an affected product need to be cleaned with a diluted mix of water and bleach.

How are retailers ensuring food safety?

Retail giants Pick n Pay, Spar, Shoprite and Woolworths announced that all Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken products would be removed from their shelves.

Retailers also announced that their storage areas would be given a thorough clean to ensure no cross contamination of products.

Other facts

Cooking kills Listeriosis - once food products are heated to above 70 degrees the disease dies.

Listeriosis can be difficult to detect – the disease can survive in cracks and corners and is known to be resistant to cleaning with chemicals, the disease is not spread homogeneously through food so scientists can test one slice of polony and find nothing‚ then test another slice and find the bacteria.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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