Listeriosis UK

Flickr / NIAID

Listeriosis in SA: “There’s still traces of listeria in your food” – says UP Food Safety research group

Researchers warn consumers to remain vigilant with their food choices.

Listeriosis UK

Flickr / NIAID

Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, will not receive the news that Listeriosis may still be present in our food. This is according to the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Food Safety research group.

The inception of the disease was, at the beginning of this year, was linked with the produce from Enterprise Foods and Tiger Brands. Cold meats such as viennas, russians, polony and other variants were recalled from stores nationwide after the disease had claimed multiple lives.

In September, Motsoaledi, addressing the media, stated that the Listeriosis outbreak had been quelled.

“Over the last two months, the incident rate of laboratory-confirmed listeria cases has dropped to the pre-outbreak level. Therefore, the conclusion is that the outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa is over.” he stated.

Read – Listeriosis: Research team reveals bacteria still present in food samples

However, UP’s Food Safety research group does not agree entirely with the Minister of Health. The disease may have not claimed a life since the announcement by Motsoaledi, however, the research group believes that there are still traces of Listeriosis in our food.

What is Listeriosis?

The disease is caused by a bacterium called Listeria. Mayo Clinic further defines the disease as follows:

“Listeria infection is a foodborne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems. Listeria infection is most commonly contracted by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products.

“Healthy people rarely become ill from listeria infection, but the disease can be fatal to unborn babies and newborns. People who have weakened immune systems also are at higher risk of life-threatening complications.”

The best way to survive such a bacterial attack on your immune system is to discover it early and seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhoea.

Antibiotic treatment is usually adopted by doctors to treat the disease.

Read – Germiston polony factory reopens, declared free of Listeriosis

Listeriosis present in ready-to-eat foods not supplied by Enterprise Foods and Tiger Brands

According to an IOL News report that was written by Kailene Pillay, the research group has found that the disease exists in ready-to-eat meat products that do not come from the fridges of Enterprise Foods and Tiger Brands.

“Considering rural areas and the informal sector, it is to be expected that it is almost impossible to make sure that all contaminated food products have been effectively removed from the whole system.

“In addition, some of our samples show Listeria monocytogenes was present in lesser-known brands that weren’t affected by the recall,” Professor Lise Korsten, a senior researcher and co-director of the Centre of Excellence in Food Security at the University of Pretoria stated.

These findings were based on a study that observed 344 samples of polony between December 2016 and September 2018.

“This raises concern around general hygiene and highlights the fact that the whole supply chain should be considered, and not just the factories from which it comes,” Korsten said.