A FOOD processing facility in Kroonstad has been identified as having the life-threatening listeriosis.
This is from the samples that were collected and processed, health MEC Butana Komphela said yesterday. Speaking during a media briefing at the health provincial headquarters of Bophelo House in Bloemfontein, Komphela said the number of cases in the province had increased from 25 to 29.
He said four deaths were reported in the province while the death toll tally countrywide was 61. A total of 727 cases have been reported nationally. Komphela said the samples processed in Johannesburg were traced back to a factory in Kroonstad. “Six samples will be collected and sent to the National Health Laboratory Service for further analysis,” he said.
Preliminary information received from the district said between December 18 and January 16, the agricultural department and rural development conducted health education talks with abattoir personnel and night cleaners.
He said there were many places where inspections were conducted but found nothing. “On January 13, meat samples were also taken on slaughter floors after inspection and after grading. All analyses complied with specifications and again no Listeria monocytogenes were detected.
“Equipment surface swabs were also taken of an S1 splitting saw, an S3 grading chiller 6 and hand surface swabs at outloading, meat inspection and halaal areas and all complied with set standards,” Komphela said.
He said the department would make sure that the elderly, pregnant women, infants and immuno-compromised individuals were safe. “It is against this background that we request consumers or communities to exercise caution when they buy food, especially meat, dairy and vegetable products.
“The food premises where they procure food should be in pristine hygienic conditions, they must refrain from consuming or providing infants with raw or unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses but also vegetables, processed foods, ready to eat meats and smoked fish products,” Komphela said.
He said raw foods such as meat must be cooked thoroughly, hands must be kept clean before and after preparing food, eating and after going to the toilet. “Kitchen surfaces and utensils must be washed and decontaminated regularly while raw vegetables and fruits must be washed before consumption.”
He said listeria awareness campaigns were conducted from December 21 to 23 in Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu in collaboration with provincial and municipal environmental health officers, health promotion and infection control officials. He said of the 29 cases in the province 12 were from Lejweleputswa, 13 from the Mangaung metro, three from Thabo Mofutsanyana and one from Fezile Dabi. Of these numbers, 22 are adults and seven are children.
“Lejweleputswa municipality is also rolling out the listeria awareness campaign to clinics with the major focus being on vulnerable groups such as pregnant mothers. Educational materials have been distributed to all municipalities in the province. “The key messages that we are sending as the government is for communities or consumers to wash hands before handling food and often during food preparation, separate raw from cooked food, cook food thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures and use safe water for domestic use at all times,” Komphela said.
“We have continuous surveillance activities and we are receiving weekly updates of the information that is consolidated for our health facilities, the health laboratories and certified by the National Institute on Communicable diseases,” Komphela said.
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