Maputo — The Mozambican authorities have banned the import of chickens and their derivatives produced by the South African companies Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken, following an outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa.
The South African Health Ministry traced the outbreak to an Enterprise food facility in Polokwane, the capital of Limpopo province. The bacterium listeria, which causes the disease, has also been traced to a Rainbow Chicken facility in Free State province.
South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaladi said that chicken polony was a definite source of the disease. But he warned that other products such as Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats which are not typically cooked, could also be affected.
The head of the Epidemiology Department in Mozambique's National Veterinary Department, Florencia Cipriano, told reporters on Monday that produce from Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken is now banned from entering the country.
She urged the public not to buy these goods, and if they already have them at home, they should not be eaten and the places where they were kept should be carefully cleaned. “Keeping these products alongside other foodstuffs must be avoided, since cross-contamination may occur”, Cipriano said.
Under instructions from the health authorities, shops and supermarkets are now removing these products from their shelves.
The South African listeriosis outbreak is one of the largest ever recorded, and so far 180 people have died from the disease.
Listeriosis is a bacterial disease that can cause severe illness, including sepsis, meningitis and encephalitis. It is normally transmitted by the consumption of food contaminated with the listeria bacterium. The people most at risk are newborn infants, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
No cases of listeriosis have been reported in Mozambique, but the Ministry has warned the public to seek medical assistance in the event of symptoms that may be caused by the disease. These include muscular pain, nausea and vomiting, and flu associated with fever and diarrhoea.
The Ministry's Public Health Department also urges good hygiene practices when conserving and preparing food, including washing one's hands before and after handling foodstuffs, and washing fresh fruit and vegetables with clean water.