‘No evidence yet of link between listeriosis deaths, Tiger Brands products’

At least 180 people have died from listeriosis since the outbreak was detected early last year.

Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall answers questions during a media briefing on 5 March 2018. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Tiger Brands says it’s not been provided with any evidence to show there is a direct link between the 180 listeriosis deaths and the company’s products.

It comes just 24 hours after the health ministry revealed that the outbreak has been traced to Enterprise outlets in Polokwane and Germiston.

The firm's CEO Lawrence MacDougall gave an update on the outbreak at tiger brands in Bryanston on Monday afternoon.

He says low levels of listeria were found on 14 February.

“We took immediate precautionary measures which included immediately halting production of the affected product, quarantined all the products we had within our distribution centre and withdrawing all the affected batch manufactured on that certain date from the trade.”

He says further tests were untaken but after Sunday's announcement, the company has taken more direct action.

“We immediately suspended operations at both manufacturing centres, we halted all supply to retailers, we’ve set up a consumer helpline and we’re engaging with customers.”

Enterprise is owned by Tiger Brands which has now confirmed it's recalling all exported products.

At the same time, Tiger Brands says immediate action and corrective steps have been taken to address the listeriosis outbreak.

MacDougall says despite the outbreak, there are strict controls.

“To give you some insights, Enterprise foods follow some 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.”

Tiger Brands has given the assurance that it's dealing with the situation as a matter of urgency and that food safety remains its top priority.

_WATCH: Tiger Brands on listeriosis outbreak _