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People urged to rinse food to minimise spread of listeria

Listeriosis has already claimed the lives of at least 61 people, most of them in Gauteng.

FILE: A view of the listeria bacteria. Picture: National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

JOHANNESBURG - The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa is urging consumers to follow instructions and make sure their food is well rinsed to minimise the potential for listeria to spread even further.

The council, AgriSA and the Press Club held a briefing for updates on the outbreak on Thursday.

So far, listeriosis has claimed the lives of at least 61 people, most of them in Gauteng.

Listeriosis is a food poisoning that occurs when the bacteria known as listeria has contaminated a consumable item.

Although it’s treatable, the disease is particularly dangerous for the elderly, young children and pregnant women.

The Health Department has stressed the need for all South Africans to thoroughly wash their hands at all opportunities.

The Consumer Goods Council’s Matlou Setati has reassured South Africans that the food sold by retailers is safe to eat and that there are systems in place to ensure this.

“We follow a process where any raw material that comes in gets tested. When we do processing in the factory, we carry out testing before any product is sent to distribution.”

But she says consumers need to be vigilant when storing food and preparing it.

“That’s why it’s important to separate the food.”

Setati says the council is working to educate all retailers on regulations and standards they need to meet for their products to be sold.

LISTEN: Listeriosis now a 'notifiable disease' as state tries to find source

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)