On Monday. Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said no new cases of listeriosis had been reported in the last three months. While this is good news for consumers who have been given the go-ahead to consume processed meat, it doesn’t mean implicated companies are off the hook.
Richard Spoor Attorneys are finalising the civil case they are planning to bring against Tiger Brands. The law firm’s Thamsanqa Malusi confirmed they were in discussions with Tiger Brands to finalise the certification for the class action. This, he said, should be done by next week.
Malusi said they had a formal mandate from 130 of the 1200 people who were affected by the outbreak. It was the world’s worst listeriosis outbreak, and led to the deaths of more than 200 people.
The source of the outbreak was traced to Tiger Brands’ Polokwane Enterprise factory and the Rainbow Chicken factory in Germiston.
However, Motsoaledi said private and government investigators couldn’t pinpoint how the bacteria ended up at the affected factories. He added that the Polokwane Enterprise factory was still closed, and the Rainbow Chicken factory had been given a provisional go-ahead to produce food.
Motsoaledi said the government spent R12 million in response to the outbreak.
He cautioned the public against believing social media posts that claimed fake food is being produced. Violence broke out in Soweto last week when residents looted foreign-owned shops, claiming they produced fake food. Four people died.
“I’ve been told there’s rice made of plastic, and bread that doesn’t dissolve in water. I have seen all these pictures (on social media) but when I ask for evidence, I don’t receive it.
“Bring the foodstuff to us. If you buy it, we will reimburse you. We have scientists here waiting in anticipation,” Motsoaledi said.
He added that there seemed to be confusion over the expiry dates of foodstuffs. He said the “best-before date” was not an expiry date.
“People confuse that. It’s used for quality and stock rotation. These are long shelf-life foods that are mostly dry and tinned.
“The ‘use-by date’ is an expiry date. It means that when the food is consumed, it becomes unpalatable. We strongly believe that once the expiry date is passed, people respect it.”
If you have information on fake food, contact the national Health Department at 0113862003/6 or the National Consumer Commission at 0124287000 during office hours.