As awareness campaigns increase in various sectors around the source of the listeriosis outbreak, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has assured communities that it has taken the necessary steps to prevent the further spread of the disease. On Sunday, the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced that Tiger Brands’ Enterprise facility in Polokwane, Limpopo, was the source of the listeria spread, which has claimed at least 180 lives since the Department of Health confirmed the outbreak in 2017. A Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) facility is also under investigation. Ready-to-eat products from both companies have been recalled.
The WCED has since embarked on a campaign that is aimed at informing staff and students about the risks of eating ready-to-eat foods.
MEC for education, Debbie Schäfer, explained that cold meats and polony are not used for school meals that are provided to pupils by the National School Feeding Scheme.
While the department has embarked on a campaign to educate communities about the spread of the disease, in conjunction with the Health Department, it has forwarded circulars to all schools on Tuesday, informing schools about the foods that pose a risk and the possibility of cross contamination.
Schools have been urged to ensure that polony and other ready-to-eat products are not sold from its premises and to educate learners about purchasing the products outside of the school.
“We are specifically advising schools to encourage all staff and students to avoid all processed meat products that are ready-to-eat.
“Even though we know polony has been specifically mentioned, it’s not necessarily the only product. There is apparently a risk of cross contamination of other ready-to -eat processed meat products.”
Schafer says that while the department has informed schools about the symptoms of listeriosis, the disease is notifiable.
Meanwhile, Enterprise Foods has reassured consumers that it is taking all necessary precautions and has confirmed that it has recalled the necessary products.
“The company is working closely with the authorities to conduct a recall. After consultation with the National Consumer Commission, a full communication plan – including print, radio and online communication – will be rolled out at the soonest possible time, to help us reach consumers who have Enterprise products in their home. We have contacted all our customers to confirm that the recalled products are removed from store shelves.
“We will be setting up a consumer helpline to specifically assist anyone requiring more information around this recall.”
The company further indicated that it has introduced improved hygiene monitoring of its equipment, storage and waste areas within its facilities.
“Tiger Brands advises consumers to remove any Enterprise ready-to-eat products from their fridges and place them in a plastic bag away from other products. We are working on a process on how to engage with consumers around the recall and will revert as soon as possible.”