Food poisoning is suspected to be the cause of two people dying and up to 29 more being admitted to hospital after they attended a funeral in Kagiso, in the West Rand District.
The Gauteng Department of Health said it is working with the West Rand District Health Services to investigate the cause of the food poisoning cluster outbreak.
The poisoning is suspected to have occurred at the funeral of an elderly woman, on Kadima Street, Kagiso, on Saturday, 13 November.
“Food was served around 11am, and reports of sudden vomiting and diarrhoea began at around 4pm on the same day. On Sunday evening, there were rumours of eight cases of people with symptoms and one death,” Gauteng Health Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said on Thursday.
Kekana said there are 29 verified cases in public and private health facilities after the outbreak.
The department said the cause of death is still to be confirmed.
“Water and food samples have also been collected and the District Health Services is awaiting results,” said Kekana.
The food poisoning in Kagiso comes after five children – two in Mpumalanga and three in the Eastern Cape – died recently, allegedly after eating instant noodles. The department of health is also investigating a case of food poisoning in Gauteng.
Are instant noodles safe to eat?
Dr. Hanli de Beer, senior lecturer in the department of consumer science at the Northwest University, says since the noodles are dry there is little chance that any organism could have grown on them in sealed packets.
“Although it does not spoil, what happened during the preparation and when the children ate it would be important. Food poisoning happens when a toxic substance is in the food that is eaten. Symptoms appear very quickly within a few hours after being eaten,” she explained.
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De Beer suspected that the culprit is the flavouring, which could have been contaminated by spore-forming bacteria.
“These organisms’ spores are also heat-resistant, which means that even if you boil the spores of Bacillus cereus, it would not be destroyed. The heat would activate the spores,” she said.
Additional reporting by Ina Opperman