Tiger Brands, RCL Foods shares fall over listeria scare

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Sunday the source of the outbreak, which has been blamed for 180 deaths, is the Enterprise facility in Polokwane.

Picture: @TigerBrands/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Shares in South Africa’s biggest consumer foods producer Tiger Brands and RCL Foods fell on Monday after the government linked a deadly listeria outbreak to cold meat products known as “polony” made by Tiger unit Enterprise Food.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Sunday the source of the outbreak, which has been blamed for 180 deaths, is the Enterprise facility in Polokwane and that inquiries were ongoing at a second facility owned by the same firm.

Motsoaledi said although RCL Foods had not been identified as a source of the outbreak, a facility owned by RCL was under investigation. He announced a recall of polony products made by the two companies.

The minister also told South Africans not to consume ready-to-eat processed meat across the board due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Tiger Brands shares fell more than 10% at market open before paring losses to stand down 6.7% to 396.49 rand at 0744 GMT.

Tiger Brands said it had suspended operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane and Germiston.

Shares in RCL Foods fell more than 6% before paring losses. At 0727 GMT they were down 1.34% at R16.97.

RCL said it was recalling its polony products even though test results were still pending.

There have been 948 cases of listeria reported since January 2017. The disease causes flu-like symptoms, nausea, diarrhoea, infection of the blood stream and of the brain.