By Majaha Nkonyane | 2018-06-14
IN what will come as a relief to consumers, the Minister of Agriculture Moses Vilakati yesterday announced a lift on the ban of processed meats imposed earlier this year after a listeriosis outbreak swept through the country.
Even though the ban has been lifted, the minister cautioned consumers to be wary of the brands implicated in the listeriosis outbreak.
Even though he did not mention the brands by name, it is common knowledge that Tiger Brands, Enterprise Foods and RCL Foods were identified as the main culprits in this outbreak as several laboratory tests conducted in South Africa confirmed the outbreak as having come from the trio’s factories.
Following the outbreak, the ministry of agriculture was compelled to put up strict measures on the import of processed meats from neighbouring South Africa. Speaking at a press briefing held at the ministry’s boardroom yesterday, Vilakati recalled that the banning of imported ready-to-eat meat and meat products came after the outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa.
The subsequent lifting of the ban at Eswatini follows investigations carried out in South Africa on affected areas and sources which revealed that only the three companies Tiger Brands, Enterprise Foods and RCL Foods were affected by the outbreak. Other processed meats manufacturers were cleared from the outbreak.
Vilakati said following the conclusion of the investigation, the ministry was advised that other brands were free from the disease.
“We understand there are companies that were identified to be a source of the outbreak and we are treating those with caution as the investigations have not cleared those companies. Some of those companies are to date declaring bankruptcy because of the listeriosis outbreak. As a country, we will oly be buying from those companies that have been cleared by the investigations,” he said.
The lift on the ban, according to Vilakati, is not an opportunity for the country to import processed meat as they will treat each import request with merit. Listeriosis, the infection caused by the bacteria, causes flu-like symptoms, nausea, diarrhoea and infection of the blood and brain. It poses a higher risk for new-borns, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immunity. The outbreak was reported to have caused 180 fatalities, with 948 reported cases since January 2017.
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