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The City says the recent listeriosis outbreak has claimed the lives of 21 people in Cape Town and two-thirds of the reported cases were females.

Of the 98 cases of listeriosis reported in the city, 36 were infants younger than 4 weeks, while 35 cases have been in the 15-49 age group.

The City’s environmental health practitioners visited formal and informal businesses and conducted food sampling.

In all, the health practitioners visited 3644 formal and informal business premises and found 1761 products on the list of recalled items, and 315 food samples were taken off the shelves.

The visits were extended to hundreds of schools, early childhood development centres and various community facilities.

Mayco member for Social Services JP Smith said that since the announcement that a number of products would be recalled, the City’s health practitioners were called on to visit smaller outlets to establish if traders were 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,” said Smith.

Since December last year, the health practitioners have investigated all 41 cases that were reported, he said.

“While the number of cases has slowed, we still see regular reports of persons who have contracted listeriosis.

“We can therefore not afford to drop our guard, so our staff members will continue their monitoring and awareness activities,” Smith said.

He advised members of the public to contact their clinics or the City’s environmental health office if they have any questions or concerns about listeriosis or food safety in general.

“The numbers are of concern. To contextualise the situation, we have gone from a handful of cases on occasion in the past to nearly 200 fatalities countrywide in the last year.

“The City is doing all it can to ensure ongoing education and awareness, but we also urge the public to familiarise themselves with key food safety guidelines and to implement these guidelines to reduce risk of infection.”

He said people should wash their hands thoroughly, separate raw and cooked food, cook food thoroughly, store food at safe temperatures and use clean water and fresh food.

Last week Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi urged companies implicated in the listeriosis outbreak to seek an alternative dispute resolution with the victims of listeriosis to avoid “a shoot-out in court with the victims”.

Richard Spoor Attorneys filed an application for a class action lawsuit at the South Gauteng High Court against Tiger Brands and its subsidiary Enterprise Foods, following at least 183 known deaths as a result of the listeria outbreak.

Richard Spoor Attorneys will use 10 applicants as representatives for the affected families who lost loved ones, or people who survived listeriosis but may have been permanently harmed.

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