Listeriosis outbreak traced to processed meat

Largest listeria outbreak ever, which has killed over 180 people, has been linked to consumption of the sausage, known as polony.
calendar icon 6 March 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

The South African government has ordered a recall of the processed meat product and has advised people not to eat any processed meat.

Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia have also ordered a recall on all products and have halted imports for the foreseeable future.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi warned people, especially pregnant women, to "avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready to eat".

Consumers that have previously stored the suspected products in their fridges have been advised to disinfect all surfaces with diluted bleach.

To date there have been 948 cases of listeria poisoning in South Africa reported since January 2017, according to Reuters - which the UN calls the largest outbreak ever.

The government now believes that they have traced the outbreak to an Enterprise Food Products factory in Polokwane, South Africa, though, as of 5 March, the chief executive of Tiger Brands, which owns the Enterprise label, has insisted that "no direct link" has yet been proven between its products and the outbreak.

All supermarkets and stores are on high alert and many have cleared their shelves of meat products that are thought to be unsafe.

Consumers are urged to maintain caution when purchasing, cooking and eating any similar products that could potentially contaminated.

Listeria is caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes which may colonise the tonsils and be passed out in faeces. Listeria are wide spread in nature and are often found in cheese and silage. Exposure results in infection but disease is uncommon in pigs.

In piglets and weaners, the bacterium may cause:

  • septicaemia and high temperature;
  • nervous signs possibly meningitis;
  • weakness at birth;
  • pneumonia;
  • head on one side; or
  • middle-ear infections.

Click here to learn more about how to prevent and detect Listeria in your pigs

Source: BBC news; Eye Witness News

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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