According to press reports, Polony and products from the Enterprise factory in Polokwane‚ Limpopo‚ are the source of nearly 1,000 illnesses with nearly 180 deaths.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi made the announcement on Sunday afternoon.
More than 16 environmental samples from the Enterprise Polokwane factory tested positive for the listeriosis monocytogenes strain ST 6.
The results from the factory were confirmed at midnight on Saturday at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases – as being the strain to blame for the outbreak that killed 27% of patients in South Africa.
“Avoid all processed meats products that are sold as ready to eat‚” said Motsoaledi. He told pregnant women to avoid any processed meat “like the plague”.
“The National Consumer Commission has issued the manufacturer Enterprise involved with food recall notices‚” Motsoaledi said.
This particular strain of listeria monocytogenes that infected so many people is sequence-type 6 and was particularly “virulent”. It was transmitted from food.
“It is the worst outbreak in global history‚” Professor Lucia Anelich from Anelich Consulting Food Safety Solutions said earlier.
Listeriosis affects the elderly‚ those with compromised immune systems such as people with Aids and diabetics and new born babies
Motsoaledi said that people at risk such as pregnant women‚ those with HIV and weakened immune system must avoid all ready to eat products – such as Viennas‚ polony and frankfurters. This is because they could be cross-contaminated in shops as polony is often stored next to other ready-to-eat products.