5 March 2018

South Africa: School Nutrition Programme Safe From Listeriosis - Basic Education Dept

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Processed meat is not included in the meals served as part of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), the Department of Basic Education assured on Monday.

The department issued a statement, following Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's announcement about the source of the listeriosis outbreak.

"[Aaron Motsoaledi] announced yesterday that the source of the outbreak was found to be processed meat products, such as polony, viennas sausages and other processed cold meat products often consumed by children," basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said.

"The food served to over nine million [pupils] daily as part of the NSNP, is safe and excludes these types of meat products."

Parents and the greater school community, however, have still been advised to remain vigilant as these food items often form part of packed lunches or are sold to pupils by external food vendors or at tuck shops.

"We encourage teachers and parents to report to the nearest health care facility if [pupils] present with diarrhoea, headache, neck stiffness, confusion, loss of balance and flu-like symptoms," added Mhlanga.

"In instances where children are involved, it is better to be safe than sorry as this is a preventable and treatable disease."

The Department of Health has advised members of the public to avoid all processed meat products that are sold ready to eat.

While polony is definitely implicated, there is a risk of cross-contamination of other ready-to-eat processed meat products, either at production, distribution or retail.

Listeria on the exterior casing (packaging) of polony can be transferred to other products it comes into contact with.

This includes viennas, russians, frankfurters, other sausages, and other "cold meat" products that are typically not cooked before eating.

Source: News24

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