The ANC has welcomed the recall of products that have been linked to the outbreak of listeriosis and called for an investigation.
"The ANC has called on the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) to urgently initiate an investigation at various identified food production factories in order to ascertain and establish whether the packaging material used in those products is not substandard and that it conforms to the basic standards of hygiene," said ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe in a statement on Monday.
The Department of Health announced on Sunday that the outbreak had been traced to an Enterprise Foods facility in Polokwane. The disease has claimed 180 lives in South Africa and is the biggest so far in the world according to the World Health Organisation.
South African retailers recalled several Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken products and customers were offered refunds on Monday following the announcement.
After a two-hour meeting on Monday, management at Enterprise's Polokwane facility told workers that the factory would be closed until further notice.
A Rainbow Chicken facility in the Free State and an Enterprise facility in Germiston were also singled out, but further tests are being conducted to establish the sequence type of the bacteria.
Factories should stop 'chasing lower production prices'
Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall said the operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane and Germiston had been suspended and added that the group had halted supply to trade.
Tiger Brands owns Enterprise Foods.
Mozambique and Namibia on Monday announced they were immediately suspending South African imports of processed meat products. Botswana said it was recalling the items "with immediate effect", while Zambia called on South African retail chains in its country to pull the goods from local shelves.
Mabe said food production factories should stop "chasing lower production prices at the expense of innocent lives".
The ANC said it welcomed the recall of "cold meat" products including polony, Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters and sausages.
"While the disease is serious but treatable and preventable, the ANC is highly disturbed by the high number of fatalities as a result of the disease. To us, one death is [one] too many. It is for this reason that we make a call to the people of South Africa to remain vigilant and visit health centres as and when they experience the symptoms for immediate treatment," said Mabe.
He said the party also urged the public to follow the advice given by the Department of Health to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as "ready-to-eat" in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
"We urge the Department of Health and the Department of Labour to undertake regular visits of all factories dealing with the production of food products to ascertain their conformity [with] the relevant legislation around health and employment," he said.
Factory issued with notice of closure
The ANC also sent condolences to the families of those who had died from the disease.
"We also extend our sympathies to friends and colleagues of the victims and further join the call for the Department of Basic Education to apply extra measures to curb the outbreak at schools."
The ANC said it would meet with the relevant stakeholders in the listeriosis outbreak and visit implicated factories. The party would also engage with informal traders who sell ready-to-eat products to raise awareness around food safety, added Mabe.
Meanwhile, Free State health MEC Butana Komphela issued Rainbow Chicken's plant in Wolwehoek, Sasolburg, with a notice of closure on Monday in line with the provisions of the National Health Act of 2003.
"The delivery of the notification of closure came as a result of the swift reaction by the MEC for Health in the Free State, Butana Komphela who instructed the department of health environmental health officers who had to work with the Fezile Dabi District Municipality environmental health officers to ensure that the necessary processes are followed to ensure that the factory complies with the notification of closure," said Free Sate health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi in a statement.
He said the teams would monitor the factory to ensure that it complies with the notice "until the necessary compliance measures are put in place before the factory can be deemed compliant to start with their production in the future".