JOHANNESBURG– Shares in food producing company Tiger Brands plunged on Monday at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) after the company’s factory which makes processed meat was identified by the South African government and health authorities as the source of an outbreak of Listeriosis which has claimed 180 lives.
The news which has shocked South African meat lovers broke on Sunday and Tiger Brands received an order from the National Consumer Commission to conduct a recall of Enterprise Polony, Enterprise Frankfurters and Enterprise Smoked Russians.
Tiger Brands says it has gone further to suspend operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane in Limpopo Province and at Germiston, near here.
At one stage, shares in the food giant fell by as much as 13 per cent on Monday morning, before recovering some of the losses. They rose briefly during the company’s media conference in the afternoon but by the close of business, however, the shares were down by 7.5 per cent.
Shares in RCL Foods, another company which makes Rainbow Polony, also tumbled on Monday. RCL Foods said it has taken the measure of suspending all production of polony. The government has not identified the deadly strain of Listerios known as ST6, but it is investigating an RCL plant.
The Chief Executive Officer of Tiger Brands, Lawrence McDougall, said that there is no proven link between the Enterprise plant and the deaths of 180 people. He stressed that the company had high health and safety standards.
The National Consumer Commission saidthe public is likely to find out on Tuesday how to safely dispose of ready-to-eat processed food products in the light of the outbreak. It has warned consumers against throwing the foods in their bins as this could result in another health hazard.
Its spokesperson, Trevor Hattingh, said the two companies were expected to provide feedback on the way forward at least within the next 24 hours.
Their recall strategy; two, their recall communication plan; three, their disposal plan. We need to be absolutely sure together with the Department of Health that these products are safely disposed of,” he added.
“We’ve spoken to Tiger Brands. We’ve spoken to RCL (Rainbow Chicken Limited); they, themselves, also informed us that as part of their consumer communication, they will be providing information in so far as how these items should be disposed of. Information will be communicated, hopefully by tomorrow (Tuesday).
Meanwhile, the Enterprise factory in Polokwane has refunded consumers who bought products from them.
Consumers flock into the factory daily to buy products for business and household purposes. However, on Monday they came in large numbers to return products in exchange for their cash.
The listeriosis saga came as a shock for business people and consumers alike. It’s a disaster for some of us, especially us in businesses starting from now. The minister said it, especially on kotas (bunny chow), they must not buy them totally. So, we don’t have a business anymore, says business owner Seipei Rasethaba.
Hundreds of workers at the factory remain anxious with fear of losing their jobs.
In light of the Listeriosis outbreak, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has assured parents that no processed meat products are used as part of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP).
Processed meat products such as polony, viennas, sausages and other processed cold meat products which are often consumed by children, were referred to as no go zones by the Health Minister.
The food served to over nine million learners daily as part of the NSNP is safe and excludes these types of meat products, said the department.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK