News / South Africa

Makhosandile Zulu
2 minute read
28 Mar 2018
12:28 pm

Compulsory standards needed to avoid another listeriosis outbreak

Makhosandile Zulu

Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana said the compulsory standards would have to be responsive to the country's unique set of challenges.

Minister of Trade and Industry (dti) Rob Davies said regulations and compulsory specifications should be developed as a matter of urgency to ensure public health is not compromised and an outbreak such as listeriosis is averted.

Davies was speaking at the parliamentary briefing by his department and the departments of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (Daff) and of health (DoH) on the listeriosis outbreak and the recall of certain products by retailers.

He said the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) should develop a compulsory standard to ensure that food producers in the country adhere to those requirements.

He said he had not received such a standard, and he is of the view that had such specifications been developed then the listeriosis outbreak could have been averted.

The minister said he has informed the director general of the dti to begin work on these standards as soon as possible.

Davies issued a warning to members of the public: “Do not consume uncooked processed meat, wherever it comes from, whichever factories it comes from, with the recall notices applying to the particular factories where we have established that there is listeria.”

Daff minister Senzeni Zokwana said at a meeting held on Monday between his department, the minister of health and different food producers and other stakeholders, an agreement was reached that there is an urgent need to inform consumers that processed meats can be consumed provided that the 100 companies that have not been shut down have been thoroughly assessed to ensure they comply and that no traces of the listeria bacteria are found in their products.

“There was a proposal from the academia that maybe we need to use the international benchmark by the EU OF 100 CFUs that if it is in that range listeriosis can be allowable,” Zokwana said.

However, he said that though the standard could be acceptable by the European Union (EU), in South Africa consideration of the different challenges faced by the country’s citizenry, such as the high number of pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems, would be necessary.

Zokwana said this means there is a need to establish a committee of different stakeholders that would develop standards that would be responsive to South Africa’s unique challenges and dynamics.

“As we sit presently, we said no amount of listeria will be permissible for products when they leave the company,” he said.


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