The world’s deadliest listeria outbreak is over‚ Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Monday. There have been no new cases of the ST6 strain of listeria in any person since June.
The outbreak led to more than 203 deaths. The vast majority were caused by the ST6 strain of listeria‚ which was found in Tiger Brands Polokwane’s processed meat factory. It is not known how the bacteria ended up in the affected factory‚ Motsoaledi told a press conference in Johannesburg. “Nobody‚ whether in government or in private sector‚ can say how it up ended in the factory. Tiger Brands has done every inspection and nobody has pinpointed how this listeria got in the [factory] this way‚” he said. Every factory in the country‚ a total of 157‚ that makes processed meat has been inspected by WHO health inspectors and environmental health inspectors. Samples of food and samples taken from factory machines and surfaces were tested. Not a single factory‚ except Tiger Brands‚ had the ST6 strain of listeria that caused the outbreak. The minister said: “Now ready-to-eat processed meats can be safely consumed.”
Motsoaledi said to prevent another outbreak of listeria‚ food safety laws have been updated and 900 health inspectors (environmental health inspectors) have been re-trained in taking samples from food factories. The overall response to listeria and the testing of every factory cost R12-million‚ said health director-general Precious Matsoso. Motsoaledi urged people to follow food-safety rules even though the outbreak was over. These include washing hands‚ keeping raw and cooked food separate‚ cooking food thoroughly‚ using safe water and storing food at safe temperatures. /nc — TimesLIVE