Motsoaledi backs down: Primary cause of listeriosis still unknown

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The cause of the world’s biggest listeriosis outbreak – which has killed more than 180 people and was blamed by Health Minister on infections at Rainbow Chickens and Enterprise Food factories – is still not known. The Times reports that this was not the primary cause, the departments of Health‚ Trade and Industry and Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries conceded to a parliamentary committee.

According to the Democratic Alliance (DA)‚ the departments briefed a joint-sitting of the portfolio committees on health; trade and industry and agriculture‚ forestry and fisheries on progress made to contain the further spread of the listeria bacteria.

"Although traces of the bacterium have been found at Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken facilities‚ the departments have today confirmed the DA suspicions that Rainbow and Enterprise factories are a source but not the primary sources of the outbreak‚" said DA MP Patricia Kopane.

"It is now apparent that the government seems to be blaming bureaucratic processes and has opted for prematurely scapegoating Enterprise and Rainbow because it does not have proper emergency plans in place to contain this outbreak‚" she said in a statement.
More than 180 people have died and there are more than 900 more confirmed cases in the country. "We need urgent plans to prevent further loss of life‚" she said.

The DA called on government to implement steps to prevent another outbreak and ensure food safety for all South Africans.

They included: interim norms and standards needed to be adopted to ensure that the outbreak was contained and industries could reopen against those standards; permanent standards and regulations be instituted for trade and agriculture and other food industries as well as proper mechanisms for testing of live animals and animal products; and an over-arching independent body needed to be instituted to regulate and monitor food safety and security in the country‚ as there were too many bodies with no specific mandate.

The report says it was also revealed at the meeting in Parliament that the country had a major shortage of environmental health practitioners at municipal level.

The Times report

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