Zimbabwe and Kenya have joined the list of African countries that have banned the import of processed meat from South Africa, as a result of the current listeriosis outbreak in South Africa that has so far claimed 180 lives.
Other countries that announced a ban on Monday are Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.
Zimbabwe had earlier said it would keep importing. A statement from the Health Ministry said Zimbabwe is yet to record any case of listeriosis.
But after turnng around to ban the import, Zimbabwe’s health ministry said it is tightening surveillance at border posts and will confiscate and destroy the products if they’re found.
Apart from banning importation and sale of the products, the Kenyan Health Ministry has recalled all the products that are already in the market, asking retailers not put themng processed meat up for sale.
“Reference is made to the outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa associated with products from Enterprise food production factory and Rainbow Chicken limited. The products from Enterprise include Bokkie, Renown, Lifestyle and Mielikip while those from Rainbow are Polony, Russin and Viennas,” said Director of Public Health, Kepha Ombacho.
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. Symptoms include high temperature, flu-like symptoms, vomiting and diarrhoea. Most people infected display no symptoms, but elderly and very young people are vulnerable.
South African government blamed the sausage known as polony for the listeria poisoning.
There have been 948 cases of listeria poisoning in South Africa reported since January 2017, according to Reuters – which the UN calls the largest outbreak ever.