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Health Dept to oversee incineration of listeria-linked products

South Africa is in the grips of what the World Health Organization describes as the worst listeria outbreak in recorded history.

FILE: Customers return bags of processed meat from the Germiston Enterprise factory, on 5 March 2018. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Health will oversee the mass incineration of listeria-contaminated products.

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) explained the procedure to Members of Parliament (MPs) earlier on Friday as officials briefed the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee.

South Africa is in the grips of what the World Health Organization describes as the worst listeria outbreak in recorded history. Listeria has claimed 180 lives so far.

The National Consumer Commission is the primary regulator of consumer-business relationships in South Africa, and it’s tasked with ensuring a fair and safe deal for consumers.

Commission head Ebrahim Mohomed has told MPs the NCC acted swiftly in identifying the production plants at the centre of the listeria outbreak before ordering a complete recall of all affected products.

“We’re concerned about the disposal because listeriosis is also found in the soil hence we're pushing for the incineration of affected products.”

The commission has already held urgent meetings with both Tiger Brands and Rainbow Chicken who undertook to provide a complete list of affected products like processed meat.

‘CAN’T BLAME GOVERNMENT FOR LISTERIOSIS OUTBREAK’

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says government can’t be blamed for the listeriosis outbreak.

During a debate in the National Assembly on Thursday, Motsoaledi said that his department moved as fast as it could to detect the source of the outbreak.

Motsoaledi told MPs that the bacteria was only picked up in July last year and not in January as has been suggested.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says the government must shoulder the blame for the lack of health inspections, while the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) says Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken must come to Parliament to be held accountable.

Motsoaledi says the situation can’t be equated to the deaths of mental health care patients under his watch.

Additional reporting by Lindsay Dentlinger.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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