Tate & Lyle
Carst and Walker

Fallout from listeriosis outbreak still lingering – study

Listeriosis levels have declined in South African ready-to-eat meat, after the recent major listeriosis outbreak in the country, but the bacteria is still present in samples obtained from rural areas and the informal sector.

This was the finding of an ongoing independent study by the University of Pretoria’s Food Safety research group as part of the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence in Food Security.

The bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes has been found in food products other than what has been officially reported.

The findings were presented at the 2nd International Conference for Food Safety and Security, held in Pretoria recently.

The study covered a sampling period before, during and after the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa, which was responsible for the deaths of more than 200 people.

The researchers collected 344 samples of polony between December 2016 and September 2018, covering 77 brands/different polony products sold by 20 food outlets in both the formal and informal sector in eight of South Africa’s nine provinces.

In 2016, before the outbreak was official, out of 42 samples collected, two tested positive for the listeriosis causative bacteria.

After the official announcement, in December 2017, 186 samples were collected, of which eight were positive. But the significant finding from the research was that even once the source was identified and product recalled, four samples from 116 samples collected still tested positive for listeriosis.

Another ten samples have subsequently been collected, but the data has not yet been made available.

“What we think is happening is that while the major implicated products and brand have been removed from retail stores, some tainted products remain in the food system,” says Professor Lise Korsten Co-Director of the Centre of Excellence Food Security at the University of Pretoria.

“Considering rural areas and the informal sector, it is to be expected that it is almost impossible to make sure that all contaminated food products has been effectively removed from the whole system.

In addition, some of our samples show Listeria monocytogeneswas present in lesser-known brands that weren’t affected by the recall.”

It’s clear that the fight against listeria and other foodborne pathogens is an ongoing challenge that requires the involvement and support of all parties in the supply chain.

Unfortunately, according to Korsten , such support from all stakeholders is not forthcoming, and many members of the food industry did not want to share information or allow independent environmental or product sampling once the outbreak was announced.

“We need a national strategy, we need policy and we need governance,” she said.

“The questions around certification and auditing have resulted in a loss of trust. Our food image has been tainted, and it’s our shared responsibility to restore that.”

Another finding of the study was that the Listeria contamination came from the packaging of polony rather than the inside of the polony.

Listeria in and out

Using the FDA’s Bacteriological Analysis Manual methods, the researchers were able to isolate the pathogen from the tip end of the casing, but in some cases in the core of the product.

Professor Korsten also showed an image of one of the polony samples collected, with the packaging covered in meat shavings and filth.

This raises concern around general hygiene and highlights the fact that the whole supply chain should be considered, and not just the factories from which it comes.

This is critical in the work carried out by the Centre of Excellence in Food Security, which is a virtual centre in which multiple universities participate.

“South Africa has a dual economy, and as exporters of fresh produce, the formal economy is a highly regulated system. On the other, we have the informal sector, which is totally unregulated, with a short supply chain, and we often don’t know what the source of the goods is.

“So we look from a comparative point of view at how safe the food is in these two systems – food that is accessible and affordable and mainly consumed by the poor; how safe is it?” says Professor Korsten.

Source: IOL

Spread the love

Tags: , , ,

952 Views

Latest Food Industry News!

  • Creating the first lab-grown human breastmilk?

    Creating the first lab-grown human breastmilk? US startup BIOMILQ has just announced it “may have created” lab-grown human breastmilk directly from isolated human mammary cells. This may spell the beginning of the end for infant formula, and a new beginning for much other lactation research.  Michelle Egger and Leila Strickland are the founders of BIOMILQ, and they’re on a mission to

  • Goodbye to Lay’s Salt & Vinegar chips in SA

    Goodbye to Lay’s Salt & Vinegar chips in SA PepsiCo/Simba has culled its Lay’s Salt & Vinegar chips due to tepid sales, a decision that’s caused a stir among South African lovers of this establishment flavour. “At the end of 2019, Lay’s Salt and Vinegar flavoured potato chips were not performing as well from a sales perspective vis-à-vis the other flavours in our range –

  • Unilever to change policy on marketing products to children

    Unilever to change policy on marketing products to children Unilever has announced that it will stop the marketing and advertising of its products to children under the age of 12. The pledge forms part of new marketing principles that are designed to help parents and caregivers when choosing products for their children. The implementation will be led by Unilever’s ice cream business, with Wall’s

  • Baby food pouches: gateway to bad habits?

    Baby food pouches: gateway to bad habits? Pouches of puréed baby food can seem like a godsend to busy parents, but some experts say that babies and toddlers who use them too much can miss out on the developmental skills that will contribute to healthy eating habits. The popular pouches, introduced about a decade ago, now account for 25 percent of baby

  • Tiger Brands takes a hammering from bad news

    Tiger Brands takes a hammering from bad news This past Wednesday 12 February 2020, Tiger Brands had one of its worst days in years, with its shares finishing 6% lower on the JSE to R188 – the steepest fall since April 2011 – the day Noel Doyle presented the company’s financial results to shareholders for the first time as new CEO. New Tiger

  • Supermarkets under future threat from food delivery disruptors

    Supermarkets under future threat from food delivery disruptors Food delivery apps have are chiselling away at the restaurant industry’s market share, and upping levels of competition. The impact for supermarkets is less direct but no less a threat, as SA futurist, Jonathan Cherry, comments… A new body of research out of the UK suggests that four out of every five shoppers in the

  • Parmalat SA becomes Lactalis South Africa

    Parmalat SA becomes Lactalis South Africa Lactalis South Africa is the new name for Parmalat SA as of 1 February 2020. This is a name change only, and it will not impact the company’s existing products, brands or business operations. Parmalat SA has been been part of the international Lactalis family for the past nine years since the Lactalis Group bought

  • SA competition watchdog approves Pioneer/PepsiCo merger

    SA competition watchdog approves Pioneer/PepsiCo merger The Competition Commission has recommended that the Competition Tribunal give the green light to a R24bn deal that will see PepsiCo take over Pioneer Foods. The deal’s benefits are “significant”, the Commission said, while recommending that it be approved subject to conditions including job creation, local investment and a minimum R1.6-billion B-BBEE transaction. PepsiCo struck

  • SA plastics pact to tackle plastic waste and pollution

    SA plastics pact to tackle plastic waste and pollution Research shows that eight million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean every year… and while the statistics are overwhelming, initiatives like the newly launched and potentially game-changing South African Plastics Pact aim to tackle the problem head on by keeping plastics in the economy and out of the environment. Launched on 30 January 2020,

  • A new tomato ideal for urban gardens and even outer space

    A new tomato ideal for urban gardens and even outer space Farmers could soon be growing bunches of tomatoes in storage units, on the roof of a skyscraper, or even in space. That’s if a clutch of new gene-edited crops prove as fruitful as the first batch. The primary goal of this new research is to engineer a wider variety of crops that can be grown

Foodstuff SA

Stay informed!

Sign up for our regular newsletter, and
join over 7,000 subscribers who value this service.

Its FREE! Sign up now!

You have successfully subscribed to our mail list.

Too many subscribe attempts for this email address.

*
Food Stuff SA will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.