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WC Education Dept puts measures in place to prevent listeria

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed certain products produced by Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken are behind a countrywide listeriosis outbreak.

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

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says it's taken measures to ensure children steer clear of cold meat products which could be tainted by listeria.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed certain products produced by Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken are behind a countrywide listeriosis outbreak which has claimed the lives of 180 people.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer explains the measures taken by her department.

“As part of the feeding programme we don’t serve processed meat at all. We have also had some concerns about the food sold at our schools which often involves processed meat, so we have sent out a message to the districts and a circular will go out today.”

Listeriosis is a serious bacterial disease. The bacterium is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil, water and contaminated food, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Animals and food products, such as vegetables, can become contaminated from these sources. Infection with listeria usually results in gastroenteritis with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

However, in persons with weak immunity, the NICD says listeriosis can lead to meningitis or septicaemia. In pregnant women, listeriosis may results in pregnancy loss, along with meningitis of their infant.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)