Listeriosis Outbreak in South Africa Officially Over

The Health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced that the Listeriosis outbreak has drawn to close. 

This, after the initial announcement of the outbreak on 5 December 2017 had resulted in 1 060 confirmed laboratory cases and total death count of 216.

What Does This Mean?

Prior to the outbreak announcement, there were 60 – 80 reported cases per year of Listeriosis in 2017. Roughly 1 per week. This is considered a natural range of infection. 

This does not mean that you are free from the risk of Listeriosis and infections can still happen. And consumer awareness in key in minimising the risks. We would also advise our clients to stay on alert, as for any food contamination and to follow good hygiene and food safety practises. 

Were There Any Positive Outcomes As A Result Of This Outbreak  

Certainly, the involvement of the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) means that there is now a centralised department that will handle any reported causes. Meaning that future outbreaks can be detected faster and hopefully resolved quicker. The testing methods now employed by the NICD allows international reporting and sharing of information which can only be a benefit.

Food safety laws have also been updated and improved upon. To date 157 processed meat plants have been inspected and there seems to be ongoing work to improve this industry as a whole. 

Our Recommendations

FCS  will continue to offer our accurate testing method for listeria monocytogenes which has helped many of our clients resolve any potential risks. Our auditing team, will also continue help monitor these risks, including the potential risk for any other bacterial contamination or outbreak. 

Managing Your Food Safety

We continue to recommend that our clients follow the guidelines set out in the FCS hygiene audit  and keep to the basic rules of food safety: 

  1. Cleaning 
    • Clean as you go of tables and high-risk equipment 
    • Cleaning & sanitising of cutting boards
    • Cleaning of the kitchen according to your cleaning schedule
  2. Staff Hygiene
    • Keeping good hand hygiene and regular hand washing
    • good personal hygiene according to your grooming checklist
  3. Temperature Control
    • Managing the temperature of the cold & hot buffet/serveries
    • Keeping food out of the “danger zone” (20 – 45° C) 
    • Maintaining fridge & freezer temperatures 
    • Proper defrosting, cooling and reheating of foods
  4. Food Storage
    • Keeping raw & ready to eat food separate
    • Covering, dating and FIFO rules.
    • Good dry storage practises. 
  5.  Training 
    • Keeping staff up to date with food safety & hygiene practices. 
    • Maintaining awareness of food safety

Ultimately heeding the advise from the laboratory & auditing team will help manage these food safety risks. And FCS is committed to helping you maintain these standards through accredited testing and professional advise.  

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