Listeriosis - what to do with your Enterprise or Rainbow polony?

04 March 2018 - 17:51 By wendy knowler
The foods linked to listeria are Enterprise Russians‚ Rainbow Chicken polony and Enterprise polony.
The foods linked to listeria are Enterprise Russians‚ Rainbow Chicken polony and Enterprise polony.
Image: 123RF/ John Mcnamara

If you have any of the polony or sausage products named by the health ministry as possible culprits in South Africa’s listeriosis outbreak - especially if they’re opened - remove them from your fridge immediately to avoid contaminating other food.

And yes‚ you will be refunded for them‚ even if they are half eaten and you no longer have a receipt as proof of purchase.

At a media conference on Sunday‚ heath minister Aaron Motsoaledi named Enterprise’s food production plant in Polokwane‚ Limpopo‚ as the confirmed source of the unique strain of listeria which has caused the world’s biggest documented listeriosis outbreak‚ with 948 confirmed cases and 180 deaths.

At least 16 samples of food products collected from that plant tested positive for the ST6 strain‚ unique to the South African outbreak of listeriosis. And preliminary results show that other ready-to-eat products at Enterprise’s Germiston plant‚ as well as Rainbow Chickens’ (RCL) Wolwehoek plant‚ also contain Listeria‚ but the sequence type has yet to be confirmed.

Responding‚ the National Consumer Commission has instructed Enterprise to urgently recall all its polony‚ smoked Russians and frankfurters and Rainbow has been instructed to do the same with its chicken viennas.

That includes immediately uplifting and quarantining the named products from it sales channels and notifying all their trading partners and the appropriate authorities “locally and internationally”.

In the meantime the commission has urged consumers who’ve bought the products to “quarantine” them in order to avoid cross-contamination‚ before returning them to the store for a refund‚ when the recall is announced. That’s because the listeria bacteria survives in fridges and an open pack of infected polony or viennas could contaminate other food stored nearby.

The source of the recent Listeriosis outbreak in the country has been found. Here is what we know so far.

Stores should refund consumers who returned the recalled products‚ partly consumed or not‚ even if they no longer had a receipt‚ said deputy consumer commissioner Thezi Mabuza.

Shortly after the media conference‚ Pick n Pay tweeted that it had begun removing “the products that may be linked to the listeriosis outbreak” from its stores.

“Customers who bought any Enterprise product (including Bokkie‚ Renown‚ Lifestyle‚ Mieliekip) or any Rainbow ready-to-eat products‚ eg polony or Russians‚ can return the product for a full refund.”

And later Checkers did the same: “We are taking swift action to remove products named by the Health Ministry as sources of listeria.

“You are most welcome to return any Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken cold meat products for a refund.”

Enterprise - part of the Tiger Brands stable - issued a statement on Sunday saying the company had “proactively amplified” its testing for listeria and could confirm that it found a “low detection” of a strain of listeria in some of its products on February 14.

But‚ the company added‚ "the presence of the ST6 strain has not been confirmed by our tests".

“We have sent samples to an external laboratory to test for the strain and should receive the results tomorrow (Monday).

“We have been actively engaging the department of health and the NICD on our findings and have openly collaborated with them.

“We await confirmation of the strain… In the meantime‚ we reaffirm our commitment to recall the identified Enterprise products as soon as possible.”

Enterprise’s slogan is “Trusted quality since 1917”.