The Health Department has initiated an urgent investigation into possible food poisoning in Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, and Gauteng Provinces, following the deaths of five children who allegedly consumed toxic noodles.
He said during the meeting; preliminary investigation reports into the children’s deaths were obtained, including the food brand name, supplier or manufacturer, stores where the food was purchased.
“A team of environmental health experts has collected all other items related to the suspected food products and sent them to a laboratory for testing. The department would await the laboratory testing results and forensic investigations before making a conclusive statement,” Mohale said.
He added that this crucial information would enable the health officials to act immediately.
“This crucial information will enable officials to establish a possible link between the noodles alleged to have been consumed in the provinces and the deaths, to immediately notify the suppliers or manufacturers, while at the same time decide on the possible recall of all suspected food products from the shelves for large scale laboratory testing as part of the broader investigation process to prevent the possibility of more loss of lives,” he said.
According to Mohale, the investigation will also establish if other patients within the municipal areas had been treated at local health facilities for possible poisoning and related symptoms.
It will also establish whether or not mortuaries had received human remains of people who died of possible food poisoning.
Mohale promised that the department would keep the affected families and the public fully informed of any developments around the investigation.
“The public is encouraged to report any suspicious food products to the local authorities to carry out the necessary and accurate investigations to stop the spread of these cases at source, namely the manufacturers/importers or distributors.
“The public is further encouraged to practice good hygiene when handling any food, including checking the labelling for best before or related dates and conditions of the foodstuffs and the packaging,” he said.
The department is also working closely with other national stakeholders involved in food production and hygiene, such as the National Consumer Commission, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.
“The department would like to extend heartfelt condolences to the parents and families for the pain they are going through due to the untimely deaths of their beloved children.
“Losing a child is an extremely difficult event in anyone’s life and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this awful time,” Mohale concluded.