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S.Africa chain withdraws third meat brand over listeria fears

A man slicing horse meat/FILE

JohannesburgSouth Africa, Mar 17 – A South African supermarket chain has withdrawn a third brand of sausages after the world’s worst listeria outbreak which has claimed at least 183 lives since January last year.

Shoprite said it would no longer be selling farmer’s Deli sausages as a precautionary measure as “the presence of Listeria monocytogenes was identified in an initial testing of a single batch of red Viennas.”

It said more tests were needed to confirm “harmful levels of Listeria bacteria.

“The results of the further testing will take another five working days. In the meantime, the Shoprite Group has, as an added precautionary measure, removed all Farmer’s Deli Red and Smoked Viennas from its shelves until the product gets the all clear.”

Health officials say the source of the outbreak was an Enterprise Food plant, 300 kilometres (185 miles) northeast of the South African capital of Pretoria.

The factory produced a popular range of ready-to-eat chilled products including luncheon meat and Frankfurter sausages.

It was the third brand to be withdrawn following a ban on products made by Enterprise, which is owned by Tiger Brands, and those made by Rainbow Chickens.

Neighbouring Namibia this week registered its first listeriosis case and has banned imports of South African meat products.

Listeria contamination can result in a flu-like illness, infection of the bloodstream and, in severe cases, infection of the brain which can prove fatal.

It mainly affects children and has a three-week incubation period, making it difficult to track.

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Other countries that have imposed restrictions on South African meat imports are Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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