Five countries in Africa have banned the import of processed meat from South Africa. They said the move is to protect their citizens from listeriosis, a disease that has so far claimed 180 lives.
The countries, all of the SADC are Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.
Scientists at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases have traced the listeria outbreak to a major foods manufacturer in the country and three factories are now under investigation.
They traced the outbreak back to a major foods manufacturer in South Africa.
Zimbabwe however said it would keep importing. A statement from the Health Ministry said Zimbabwe is yet to record any case of listeriosis.
“The outbreak of the disease which is being experienced in South Africa since the beginning of the year is still confined to that country and has not spread to Zimbabwe.
“The authorities in that country have managed to trace the diseases to a source which is known and has been named.”
The statement said “foods that are spreading the disease in South Africa are also known and measures are being taken so that those perishable goods don’t circulate and end up being consumed.”
Listeriosis is a rare foodborne disease found in 10 cases per every million people and is spread from consumption of foods that are contaminated by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.
Among high risk foods according to the statement include ready-to-eat meat products such as cooked, cured and/or fermented meats, and sausages, soft cheeses and cold smoked fishery products and dairy products made of unpasteurized milk.
“The disease can also be spread from one person who is sick to others by sharing food or through contact,” the statement added.