'We would have predicted listeriosis source early had industry cooperated'

The Health Department says it had long suspected that listeria was found in ready to eat meat products, but the meat processing industry did not co-operate for months in handing over samples.

A screengrab of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi briefing the media on the listeriosis outbreak on 4 March 2018.

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Department says it struggled to confirm the cause of the listeria outbreak because companies in the sector failed to provide samples as requested.

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

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi revealed on Sunday that the disease has been traced back to Enterprise outlets in Polokwane and Germiston.

The department says it had long suspected that listeria was found in ready to eat meat products, but the meat processing industry did not co-operate for months in handing over samples.

“Had we got the ideal co-operation from the industry, we probably would have predicted the source of the disease pretty early.”

WATCH: Source of deadly listeriosis outbreak found

Meanwhile, Zambia has announced it wants South African retailers to withdraw ready-to-eat meat imports from its stores after the outbreak of listeriosis on home soil.

In a statement released on Monday, the country's high commission says stores in Zambia will emulate measures to recall products supplied by Enterprise.

At the same time, Mozambique has announced it's banned the import of South African meat products.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)