Listeriosis over; eat all polonies

Russians and polony lovers can once again indulge in their favourite delicacies after health minister Aaron Motsoaledi declared them safe for consumption on Monday.

Earlier this year, the government announced a ban on certain cold meat products, mainly russians and polony, following the outbreak of listeriosis in the country.

Speaking at the National Health Laboratory Service in Johannesburg, Motsoaledi said R12million had been spent to fight the outbreak.

He assured the nation that the delicacies can now be consumed without fear of the listeria bacteria. However, he said it remained a mystery how the bacteria ended up at the affected factories, including Rainbow.

Motsoaledi said a total of 157 meat processing facilities were inspected by a team of health practitioners, leading to 5 512 tons of meat being identified, recalled and destroyed.

“A team of World Health Organisation experts agreed that because no cases of listerios had been identified since the first week of June, the rate of laboratory confirmed cased has dropped to pre-outbreak levels. Therefore, the outbreak is over,” he said.

But he warned that the reality of listeriosis remained.

“This does not mean peole will no longer suffer from listeriosis. There have been between 60 and 80 case every year before the outbreak,” said Motsoaledi.

Motsoaledi said a surveillance system to test all human cases and identify particular dangerous strains of the bacteria had been put in place to prevent future outbreaks.

Commenting on recent claims that some foreign owned shops sold fake and expired foods, Motsoaledi said apart from social media pictures and videos the department had received “no evidence” to substantiate the rumours.

He said a team of health practitioners had been dispatched to shops around the nation to look and gather evidence.

“We’ve seen pictures. We don’t even know where the pictures were taken, we don’t even know where to start. That is why when we told municipalities on August 8, we just said go out and search all the food premises.

“The operation revealed that 281 premises were operating without valid health certificates.”