A local supermarket staff member removes all Enterprise processed meat products from it's shelves after a customer returned one of the products after a live announcement at the weekend by Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoeledi Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - The South African national basic education department on Monday moved to assure parents and learners that its national school nutrition programme was safe from listeriosis found in processed meats.

In a statement, the department said no processed meats were used in its nutrition programme following health minister Aaron Motsoaledi at the weekend identifying Enterprise ready-to-eat chilled processed meat products as one of the sources of the deadly listeriosis outbreak.

"The food served to over nine million learners daily as part of the NSNP is safe and excludes these types of meat products," the statement said.

"However, we would like parents and the greater school community to remain vigilant as these food items often form part of packed lunches or are sold to learners by external food vendors outside of schools or at tuckshops."

As of March 2, the total number of laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases had risen to 948 since January 2017. Of those, 659 patients have been traced and 180 of them have died - a 27 percent fatality rate.

Retailers Pick n Pay and Shoprite said they had withdrawn all listeriosis-linked food from their shelves.

African News Agency/ANA