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Supermarkets urged to test food amid listeria outbreak

At least 37 people have died of listeriosis and over 500 cases have reported in the country.

Picture: pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - Following the announcement of an outbreak of listeria in South Africa, there are now calls for supermarkets to test their food for the bacteria before it’s sold to customers.

At least 37 people have died of listeriosis and over 500 cases have reported in the country.

AfriForum's Marcus Pawson says restaurants should also take the necessary precautions.

“These big chain stores must do this themselves while we wait for government to come up with a plan to ensure that South Africans are safe.”

The group has blamed the Health Department for “dragging its feet” while it investigates the source of the illness.

Listeriosis is a serious, but treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium, listeria monocytogenes.

It is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation.

Animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables can be contaminated from these sources.

The Health Department has listed the following symptoms:

• Flu-like illness with diarrhoea including fever, general body pains, vomiting and weakness.
• Infection of the bloodstream which is called septicaemia.
• Meningoencephalitis (infection of the brain).

Individuals at high risk of developing severe disease include newborn babies, the elderly, pregnant women, persons with weak immunity such as HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver or kidney disease.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)