The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has assured South Africans that all foodstuffs contaminated with Listeria are safely disposed of.
The Minister has announced that the following measures have been put in place to deal with the disposal of the contaminated waste:
The contaminated waste may be accepted for treatment at a licensed incineration, non-burn or co-processing facility, or may be accepted for disposal at a Class A landfill. Class A landfills are specially designed and engineered for acceptance of hazardous waste and are not accessible for waste picking.
Any condition of the respective waste management licence of the receiving facility that may prohibit receipt of such waste will be suspended until such time as all of this waste has been treated and/or disposed of.
The Department of Environmental Affairs has moved to ensure that the measures to prevent any negative consequence of the disposal of these products are urgently put in place.
Waste treatment and disposal facilities have been made aware of these measures as well as provincial and municipal authorities. Provincial departments of Environment, Municipal Environmental Health Practitioners and officials of the National Department of Environmental Affairs continue to create awareness among waste pickers regarding the risks associated with the contaminated waste.
Minister Molewa expressed concern that the recall had caused some panic where residents ended up throwing their food products into their normal domestic waste bins and this ended up on Municipal Landfills. This took place before the announcements from outlets that food products could be brought in to the various outlets across the country.
"As we know, with the high levels of waste picking in the country, we could have waste pickers accessing the contaminated food if this food ends up in waste disposal facilities accessible to this group of vulnerable people, said the Minister.
These measures will ensure that there is enough capacity in the country to timeously dispose of the infected waste, and remove the possibility of the infected waste being accessed through waste picking activities.
"I believe the measures we have taken will ensure that the constitutional right of our people to a safe and healthy environment is protected," added Dr Molewa.
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs