Johannesburg - Tiger Brands has asked consumers to remove any Enterprise ready-to-eat meat products from their fridges and place in a plastic bag - away from other foods.
This comes after Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Sunday that processed food manufacturers Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) have been issued with safety recall notices following the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
The Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane in Limpopo has been identified as the source of the current listeriosis outbreak, he told journalists at a media briefing in Johannesburg.
Tiger Brands, which owns Enterprise Foods, confirmed that Enterprise was undertaking a full national recall on all its ready-to-eat meat products.
Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence Macdowell said: “Food safety remains the highest priority at Tiger Brands where we always place consumers’ health and safety above all else. Therefore, we can confirm that we have, with immediate effect, undertaken a full national recall of the affected Enterprise ready-to-eat meat product range.”
The company said: "We will be setting up a 24 -hour consumer helpline to assist anyone requiring more information on the recall. We are working closely with all relevant authorities to conduct the recall. We have suspended operations at both manufacturing facilities (Polokwane and Germiston) and stopped supply to retailers.
"Consumer safety remains our highest priority and we will be rolling out a full communication plan as soon as possible to reach everyone who has bought Enterprise ready-to-eat meat products. As per the Minister of Health’s instructions, please remove any Enterprise ready-to-eat meat products from your fridge and place in a plastic bag - away from other foods. We are working on a process on how to engage with consumers around the recall and will revert as soon as possible."
Tiger Brands said it would be meeting with the National Consumer Commission (NCC) on Monday.
"It is imperative for us to follow the NCC guidelines in managing the #EnterpriseRecall. We will provide an update as soon as we have more clarity.
At Sunday's media briefing alongside the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Motsoaledi said the number of lab-confirmed cases attributed to the food-borne disease now stood at 948 with a fatality rate of 27% cases.
According to Motsoaledi, the said cases were confirmed following government’s efforts in tracing the source of the disease outbreak which is currently the biggest in the history of SA.
He said a team from NICD recently interviewed 109 people as means of establishing what they ate just a month before falling ill.
“Eighty-five percent of the people reported eating ready-to-eat processed meats of which polony was the most common followed by viennas, sausages and other cold meats,” Motsoaledi said.
Listeria is a form of bacteria found in the environment and commonly occurs in soil, water, vegetation and in the faeces of some animals.
It can contaminate a variety of food types, including meat and dairy products.
While listeria cannot be spread from one person to another, pregnant women and infants, as well as people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of contracting it.
Symptoms include fever, muscle aches nausea and diarrhoea.
Motsoaledi highlighted that in January, nine children under the age of five years were rushed to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital due to febrile gastroenteritis.
On the same day, he said, environmental practitioners visited the creche were these children were and took samples of two polony brands which were later traced back to Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited.
Motsoaledi said samples have also been taken from an Enterprise facility in Germiston adding more investigations would be conducted including research of samples linked to a Rainbow Chicken facility in Wolwehoek, near Sasolburg in the Free State.
In a bid to curb the further spread of the disease, the Department of Health said the National Consumer Commission (NCC) has issued manufactures concerned with safety recall notices. Motsoaledi urged the public to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat even from other brands.
“While we know that polony is definitely implicated, there is a risk of cross-contamination of other ready-to-eat processed meat products. This is because listeria on the exterior casing (packaging) can be transferred to other products it comes into contact with,” he said.
Following the announcement, retailers across the country rushed to remove the listeriosis-linked products from their shelves.