Listeria threat: Govt dispatches teams 

Source: Listeria threat: Govt dispatches teams | The Herald March 8, 2018

Herald Reporter
Government has dispatched teams to inspect ready-to-eat cold meats, particularly those imported from South Africa, that are being sold in supermarkets and by the informal sector following the ban on cold meat imports. The ban was necessitated by revelations from South Africa that particular brands of polony had traces of a bacteria causing a food-borne poisonous disease, Listeria, which has so far claimed 180 lives in that country since 2017.

Deputy Director for communicable diseases in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Isaac Phiri said inspection was taking place in food outlets and companies in risk areas and in border districts.

“We have dispatched teams to our local supermarkets, tuck-shops and even on the streets to monitor anyone selling this particular brand, Enterprise by Tiger brands,” he said.

“So far we have not come across any of this brand.” Dr Phiri said health teams were also monitoring boarder posts to ensure that the particular brand, together with Rainbow Chickens, were not smuggled into the country.

South African health authorities found traces of the bacteria in frankfurters and smoked Russian sausages, resulting in the recalling of all Tiger Brands and Rainbow Chicken from the market.

South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases has since warned against consumption of all other processed ready to eat foods such as viennas, ham, meat spreads, corned meat, salami, pepperoni and most unrefrigerated uncooked foods.

Zimbabwe is at high risk of importing listeria disease through processed foods because South Africa is the country’s biggest trading partner and the proximity of Polokwane province to Matabeleland South province.

There are high volumes of human traffic to and from South Africa, with many Zimbabweans frequenting Musina and Johannesburg to shop for a variety of goods such as groceries, including the processed foods. Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia have since banned all cold meats from South Africa.

Listeriosis is food poisoning caused by eating foods contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) bacterium.

Signs and symptoms of the disease include diarrhoea, high fever of more than 38 degrees, headache, muscle pain and complications such as septicaemia and meningitis. The disease can also be spread from one person who is sick to others by sharing food or through contact.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, people can avoid contracting the diseases by practising good personal hygiene, washing hands at all times before eating and handling foods or after using the toilet.