Independent laboratory tests have found that JSE-listed consumer goods company RCL Foods’ Wolwehoek polony plant, in the Free State, is clear of the ST6 listeria strain, which Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced as being responsible for the country’s major listeriosis outbreak.
The company has recalled its Rainbow brand polony products as a precautionary measure and temporarily closed the plant. However, RCL on Friday announced that tests by a laboratory in France had found no ST6 listeria at the polony factory.
Motsoaledi confirmed on March 4 that the source of the listeriosis outbreak had been traced to JSE-listed Tiger Brands’ Enterprise meat factory in Polokwane, Limpopo. Tiger Brands has recalled processed meat products produced at two of its facilities, but refused to take blame for the deaths.
The recalls were deemed crucial to prohibit further listeria diagnoses (already 948 confirmed cases), as the outbreak has claimed 180 lives – 78 of which were infants – in South Africa since January 2017.
RCL stated that the listeriosis outbreak – which is believed to be the largest-ever worldwide – had shown that more had to be done to help consumers understand listeria and how they could protect themselves and their families. The company stated that it would continue to support national efforts that take the message about food safety and listeria to as wide an audience as possible.