Namibia: Retailers Scramble to Mitigate Listeria Outbreak

Tastebud Shack, Norlen House, corner of Buitenkant Street and Caledon Street, Cape Town, South Africa. A gatsby is a South African sandwich typically sold as a foot-long sandwich sliced into four or eight pieces (file photo).

Windhoek — Local retailers were this week scrambling to mitigate the effects of the listeria outbreak in South Africa that has been linked to the Enterprise brand's processed cold meats and Rainbow Chicken polony production facilities in Polokwane, South Africa. As of yesterday the outbreak, which has thus far resulted in 180 deaths in South Africa, had culminated in South Africa's neighbours banning the importation of cold meats from the affected manufacturers.

By yesterday morning Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia all issued statements banning the importation of all ready-to-eat foods such as polony, russians, frankfurters and viennas, including all types of hams, salamis and 'smeer wors' from Rainbow Chickens and Enterprise Foods in South Africa.

"All import permits and in-transit permits issued prior to this public notification are hereby cancelled and recalled. Retailers who might have imported these types of products from Rainbow Chickens and Enterprise Foods Ltd are strongly advised to remove them from the shelves," reads a statement issued late on Monday by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.

Listeriosis food poisoning is caused by eating foods contaminated with the listeria monocytogenes bacterium. The disease can be more severe in pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those individuals with [vulnerable] immune systems such as HIV patients.

"We have started removing affected Enterprise Food and Rainbow cold meats from our shelves. You are most welcome to return any Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken processed meat products for a full refund," reads a statement from Checkers South Africa, which is also a major player in the Namibian retail market.

Another local retailer, Pick n Pay Namibia, which falls under the Ohlthaver & List Group umbrella, said in a statement that it has instituted precautionary measures in response to the outbreak. The retailer yesterday issued an urgent instruction to its stores country-wide to immediately remove all the Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken products from its shelves.

On Sunday supermarkets in the Shoprite Group removed and isolated all affected Enterprise processed cold meats and Rainbow Chicken polony from its fridges and delis. This followed an announcement by South Africa's Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who confirmed that test results linked the listeria monocytogenes strain positively with these products' supplier manufacturing plants.

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