NAMIBIA intends suspending import permits of the Enterprise Food Production facility in Polokwane and Rainbow Chicken in the Free State after meat products from these two factories were identified as the sources of the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
The chief veterinarian in the directorate of veterinary services at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Milton Maseke, confirmed this development to The Namibian.
The ministry also intends removing products that had already been imported from those two companies, and is liaising with the health ministry, which is mandated to carry that function out.
"We have started some preliminary tests of some of these products for indicative organisms, and even though some indicative species have not been identified, we are still cautious," he said.Yesterday the Olthaver & List (O&L) Group, under which Pick n Pay Namibia falls, issued an urgent instruction to the retailer's stores countrywide to immediately remove all Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) products from their shelves.
The minister of health of South Africa announced yesterday afternoon that his department had identified the source of the national listeriosis outbreak which has affected over 1 000 people and has tragically led to a number of fatalities, in South Africa, over the past few months. Processed meat products manufactured at factories operated by Enterprise and RCL have been issued with safety recall notices.
Spokesperson of the O&L Group Roux- che Locke said in the statement: "The health and safety of our customers are our first priority. We believe that the impact of the recall on the Namibian market is not as severe since Pick n Pay Namibia has a diversity of suppliers, many of whom are local. While we are not aware of any confirmed reports of listeria in Namibia, we have taken this step as a precautionary measure as our customers' safety is important to us. Any customer who is concerned that they may have bought any affected meat products linked to the outbreak can return it to any of our stores for a full refund." Other retailers such as Checkers and Woolworths have also recalled all products linked to listeriosis, and even offered refunds to customers who had bought these products, once returned. These products will be destroyed.
Meanwhile, Maseke has stressed that Namibians should not panic and assume all ready-to-eat products from South Africa are dangerous to consume, citing that it is only the two companies in question which had products that triggered the outbreak.
He said Namibia is being proactive in dealing with the outbreak, but consumers everywhere should take precautions.
"This is not the first time for this outbreak to occur, but at least now the source has been traced. Just take precautions when dealing with cold meats, properly clean your surfaces after cutting meat on them, and consume properly cooked meats," the chief veterinarian advised.
Maseke added that they are not aware of how many imports of such products entered the country, but government is responding fast in terms of having them removed from the shelves to prevent any outbreaks.
According to Sunday Times, South African health minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday confirmed that listeria had caused the world's biggest documented listeriosis outbreak' with 948 confirmed cases and 180 deaths thus far.