The recent outbreak of Listeriosis caused by Listeria monocytogenes in South Africa

The health department has released an update on the Listeriosis outbreak. At this stage, the source of the contamination has as of yet, not been identified.

The investigation is ongoing and there are now 727 confirmed laboratory cases, and 61 confirmed deaths as a result of the infection.

Gauteng has reported 61% of cases, Western Cape has reported 13% and KwaZulu/Natal 3% of reported cases.

Listeriosis infection is now a notifiable disease in South Africa following the initial reports from 5 December 2017, correctly following the trend worldwide.

The clinical work has determined that strain ST6 is the cause of the recent outbreak :

This ST6 strain has been identified in isolates from all 9 provinces, and this finding supports the current working hypothesis, of a single source of food contamination, causing the outbreak, i.e a single widely consumed food product or multiple food products produced at a single facility.

How is a source identified?

The clinical test of a patient must match the result of the contaminated food sample and must be linked back to the facility. There must be this 3 point link before a source and be officially identified.

Unfortunately, none of the foods evaluated has been linked in the above scenario.

A multisectoral outbreak response team (MNORT) led by the National Department of Health, and includes the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (DAFF), the Department of Trade and Industry, the NICD and other relevant stakeholders will continue to monitor and coordinate the outbreak response activities.

We urge our clients to be especially careful and ensure that good food safety and hygiene practices are maintained.

What can you do to help prevent Listeriosis?

  • Ensure that you follow all the recommended practices as specified in your FCS Hygiene Audits.
  • Check your latest Corrective Action Report and make sure you have corrected all the critical and major issues.
  •  Any slicers or food processors MUST be dismantled and cleaned and sanitised after each use!!
  • Wash out and disinfect all floor drains. Make sure that you clean and disinfect floor drains on a regular basis.
  • Clean and sanitise the cooling units of the cold rooms (switch off the units first).
  • Ensure proper food segregation (Raw meats separate from ready-to-eat). Please be especially careful with raw chicken.
  • Be careful of cross-contamination during production.
  • Ensure effective cleaning and sanitising at all times. Use the chemicals correctly and don’t just wipe with damp cloths.
  • Wash hands and equipment thoroughly between handling and preparation of these foods. Tell staff by washing their hands, they will not only be keeping the guests safe, but also keeping themselves and their families safe too.
  • Maintain good food temperature control at all times. Hot foods >65degC and cold foods below 5degC.

Check out our original article on the Listeriosis outbreak for further information and advice.

Remember we are available for testing services should you suspect potential concerns in your kitchen.