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SA's listeria outbreak is largest on record - WHO

WHO manager Peter K. Ben Embarek said this was the largest ever recorded outbreak of this severe form of listeriosis globally.

World Health Organisation. Picture: UN Photo

JOHANNESBURG - The South Africa listeria outbreak that has killed 180 people since January is the largest ever recorded globally, the World Health Organisation said on Monday.

“Yes, this is the largest ever recorded outbreak of this severe form of listeriosis globally,” Peter K. Ben Embarek, who manages the WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network, told Reuters in an emailed response.

Five Southern African Development Community countries have announced they are banning processed meat from South Africa. They include Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi and Uganda.

In just the last few minutes, Zambia's health ministry has confirmed its extended its recall to include dairy products, fruit and vegetables from South Africa.

At least 180 people have died from listeriosis since early last year, with the health ministry tracing the outbreak to Enterprise outlets in Polokwane and Germiston.

But parent company Tiger Brands says the contamination isn't linked to any deaths. CEO Lawrence Macdougall says despite the outbreak, there are strict controls.

“To give you some insight, Enterprise foods follows stringent protocols for the manufacture of quality food products. This includes monitoring and testing for the detection and management of pathogens, viruses and bacteria, including listeria.”

WATCH: Tiger Brands on listeriosis outbreak

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