FEAR FACTOR: ODZ Takeaway customer Khumbula Blaai outside the shop. Some vendors in Joe Slovo say they are feeling the effects of the listeriosis outbreak. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - Small business owners relying on the sale of processed meat like polony and Russian sausages say they have been hard hit by the listeriosis outbreak.

The outbreak was announced in December and 978 cases have been reported since last year, with 183 deaths - 29 in the Western Cape.

Billy Ojo, who has a vetkoek business in Joe Slovo, Milnerton, said he has been in the business for five years, after losing his job at the fruit and veg market in Epping.

“I worked there for about two years and I didn’t want to sit idle then a friend said I should get into this business. The business picked up after two months until this issue.”

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Ojo said he was forced to dump stock as customers were not buying processed meat.

“It has affected me badly and until now I have not been able to pay rent, because this is my only income. People have seen it in the media and they don’t want anything.

He said he didn’t want to risk buying stock. “I think in winter business will pick up. In a week I could make R2000, now it is difficult to make R400 a week.”

Across the road, Xoliswa Phaca said her employer spoke to their supplier, and they had assured her their products were free of listeria. She was still getting customers buying vetkoek with polony and other processed meat.

“The supplier told her only Rainbow and Enterprise were affected, and they cleaned their fridges and were not at risk.”

Phaca said customers did first enquire which products they used, and had no issues with buying.

Other shop owners, who spoke anonymously, said they hoped the panic would pass soon as they were badly affected.

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As a result of the listeriosis outbreak, health authorities recalled processed meat made by Tiger Brands and Rainbow Chicken Limited.

Tiger Brands chief executive Lawrence MacDougall said they were dealing with a national crisis: “In the event that a tangible link is established between our products and listeriosis illnesses or fatalities, Tiger Brands will take steps to consider and address any valid claims which may be made against it in due course.”

The group said they were recalling all Snax ready-to-eat processed chilled meat products, following ongoing testing protocols and subsequent detection of the presence of listeria bacteria in a Snax product sample. There was no confirmation of the bacteria strain yet - it was being tested.

“During this period of investigation and discovery, we have decided to be extra cautious and to take immediate precautionary action when traces of listeria are detected where they are not expected.”

MacDougall added that their plants and factories in Polokwane, Germiston and Pretoria were undergoing extensive deep cleaning.


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Cape Argus