The EFF has called on its members to ensure all products linked to the listeriosis outbreak are removed from retail store shelves across the country. The party is targeting Pick 'n Pay outlets.
"If the government and all related companies will not declare a state of crisis, we must as citizens take it upon ourselves to do so. Thus, the EFF declares the listeriosis outbreak as a crisis," said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi on Wednesday.
He warned managers and staff members at the targeted stores not to stop citizens from "helping" remove the products."It is a matter of fact that Pick 'n Pay, due to its arrogance and refusal to take responsibility, is failing to act on this with the necessary speed required to save lives," said Ndlozi.
David North, Group Executive, Strategy and Corporate Affairs at Pick n Pay, said in a statement that all affected products produced by Enterprise and Rainbow Foods Limited immediately after the health minister's announcement on Sunday.
"All our butchery, deli areas and fridges have been sanitized following the recall to avoid any risk of cross-contamination. Customers can be reassured that all products available in our stores are fresh and are safe to eat. No cooked meats currently sold in Pick n Pay are supplied by Enterprise or Rainbow Foods Limited," the statement reads.Any customer who has a cooked meat product made by Enterprise or Rainbow Foods Limited which was purchased from a Pick n Pay store before the products were withdrawn can return it for a full refund, North added.
While the EFF's statement refers to Pick n Pay specifically, Ndlozi said the call to help remove the products applied to all retail stores, including Shoprite and Woolworths.
"Fighters across the country, together with all South Africans, must help managers and staff of these retail stores to remove listeriosis products from our shelves," he said in a statement.
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"The South African outbreak of listeriosis has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation as the largest incident of listeriosis in history, killing 180 [people], with 980 falling sick," he said.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Sunday that the outbreak of the disease had been traced to an Enterprise Foods facility in Polokwane.
"We can now conclude scientifically that the source of the present outbreak is the Enterprise Food production facility located in Polokwane," he said at the offices of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg.
Traces of listeria had also been found at another Enterprise facility in Germiston, on the East Rand, and a Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State, but further tests were needed as the sequence type was not yet known.
Among the Enterprise meat products being recalled are polony, Viennas and Frankfurters.
Pick 'n Pay further referred News24 to a statement dated March 4 on the retailer's website.
In the statement, Pick 'n Pay says: "Following the minister of health's announcement earlier this afternoon (Sunday) on the source of the listeria outbreak, Pick 'n Pay has acted immediately to withdraw all products from the manufacturing sites identified by the Department of Health."
Responding to a tweet from EFF regarding the matter on Wednesday, Pick 'n Pay said: "All #listeria-affected products have been removed. Customers can rest assured that products are fresh and safe to eat. The safety of customers is always our primary concern at PnP."
Ndlozi did not respond to calls, as News24 sought to establish which stores the EFF had visited and what evidence they had that the retailer had not acted with speed.