EAST LONDON - The massive recall of cold meats, following an outbreak of listeria in South Africa has had a negative impact on the country’s thriving small business sector, which is the bread basket for millions of families particularly in the townships, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said on Thursday.
“When we heard about this disease that is being spoken about, [Listeriosis] they spoke about polony. As the minister of small business development, and the people in my office, the first thing that came to my mind was -- oh my God, the women and men who are selling sandwiches around the corners, this is going to affect them. Nobody is going to buy their sandwiches, their kotas [bunny chows mainly sold around South Africa’s townships],” Zulu said addressing the third Biodiversity Economy Indaba at the East London International Convention Centre.
“So we decided to write a letter to the minister of health, and say to the minister, as you are discussing how we are going to deal with this and how you are going to be tracing it, please think about us as a department and the people that we represent.”
Zulu said her department requested that they be included in ongoing engagements to combat the outbreak.
“We asked that we also sit in their [department of health] committees that are dealing with it [the outbreak]. At the end of the day, we know that there are millions of people who eat that in the morning, or during lunch time, but the people who are preparing that are our small and medium enterprises and the informal sector.”
She said her request was agreed to and the department of small business development was invited to upcoming meetings.
On Sunday, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said processed food manufacturers Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) had been issued with safety recall notices following a lengthy, in depth investigation by scientists into the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
Scientists had identified the Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane in Limpopo as the source of the current listeriosis strain ST6 outbreak. Preliminary results showed that several ready to eat processed meat products from the Enterprise facility in Germiston in Gauteng contained listeriosis monocytogenes, but the sequence type was not yet known.
"Investigation of the RCL Wolwehoek [near Sasolburg in the Free State] production facility is also underway. Polony products have tested positive for L. monocytogenes, but the sequence types of the isolates are not ST6," Motsoaledi said at the time.
Enterprise and Rainbow supply a very broad range of retailers across South Africa.
Supermarkets in South Africa reacted swiftly by recalling and withdrawing Rainbow cold meats from their shelves following Motsoaledi’s announcement.
At least 180 people have died from the listeriosis, while many other patients are still being tracked by the department of health.
- African News Agency (ANA)