HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Health and Child Care ministry has started inspections of food outlets after the world’s worst listeria outbreak in neighbouring South Africa, which has killed 180 people.
The inspections will take place unannounced and come after the country activated its surveillance teams to monitor importation of cold meat from South Africa into the country.
The ministry said it was taking measures to minimise the introduction and spread of the disease in Zimbabwe.
“Cross border collaboration and sharing of information on the disease outbreak with our neighbour South Africa is being strengthened in line with International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) and the Public Health Act 15:09 (as well as ) stricter monitoring of refrigerated ready to eat foods coming into the country at the border posts to make sure that they are not coming from the identified brands and source.
“(The other measure is) inspection of all food outlets, shops and repackaging companies across the country through the Environmental Health departments from the ministry of Health and Child Care and Local Authorities, health screening of travellers from risky areas at ports of entry and strict hygiene control measures of the environment where food is being manufactured and stored.
“(The ministry is also) carrying out health education and promotion through print and electronic media to ensure the population is aware of the risks and measures to take to avoid being infected,” the statement reads.
The ministry encouraged people to desist from bringing into the country — ready to eat processed meats such as sausages, polony, viennas, ham, meat spread, corned meat, salami and pepperoni from the identified source of the disease outbreak into the country.
“People can avoid contracting the disease by practising the five keys to safer foods which are; kept clean; separate raw and cooked foods; cook food thoroughly; keep food at safe temperatures and use safe water and raw materials.”