Cape Town – Tiger Brands had recalled 3 500 tons of its Enterprise ready-to-eat, chilled meat products by Monday.
This, as it awaits the outcome of a report it commissioned on why the ST6 strain of listeria was found at its Polokwane facility, its spokesperson said on Wednesday.
“The first recall went extremely well,” Nevashnee Naicker said of the company’s “no receipt required” policy, which it used to get customers to return affected products, including polony, viennas, salami and other cold meats.
On March 4, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi said at least 180 people had died from listeriosis from January 1, 2017 to March 2, 2018, and there were 948 confirmed cases.
He said an investigation had traced the ST6 strain of the listeria bacteria, believed to be causing the deaths, to the company’s factory in the Limpopo capital.
This was after the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) had analysed swabs taken at the factory.
It also found listeria monocytogenes at the company’s Germiston plant, but has not confirmed that it was the ST6 strain.
Tiger Brands has said that until it has received the results of its own tests, it will not confirm that the outbreak was from its factory.
However, it is abiding by the National Consumer Commission’s and health department’s recall requirements.
Refunds apply to the products, even if they had been opened and partly consumed. Supplies to trade were also halted.
“We’re confident that we will recall everything that needs to be recalled,” said Naicker.
Everything brought back will be incinerated and it still too early to quantify the costs associated with the recall, Naicker added.
The company had launched a broadcast, print, and social media campaign to get the products off shelves and out of homes, and has combined it with an awareness campaign on the symptoms of listeriosis as well as basic hygiene tips.
It is also working with chiefs in rural areas to make sure the message is spread.
Although production and supply to trade has stopped, staff are at factories conducting deep cleaning.
Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) also recalled its Rainbow polony as a precautionary measure, but comment was not immediately available for an update on progress.
Motsoaledi also announced that RCL Foods’ polony products tested positive for listeria monocytogenes, but not the ST6 sequence responsible for the outbreak.
Rainbow Chicken’s fresh and frozen products are not affected.
The Department of Health was also investigating the RCL Foods polony production facility in Wolwehoek and was waiting for a report to confirm the results.
As the recalls continue, health department spokesperson Popo Maja said there was no new information available.