Listeria outbreak: Zimbabwe bans meat importation from South Africa

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Zimbabwe has reportedly banned the importation of cold meat from South Africa following the outbreak of Listeria.

This came following reports that four other countries in Southern Africa had also taken steps on Monday against importation of South African chilled meat made at a factory found to be the origin of the world’s worst-ever listeria outbreak.

Mozambique and Namibia announced they were immediately suspending imports of the products. Botswana said it was recalling the items “with immediate effect”, while Zambia called on South African retail chains in its country to pull the incriminated goods from local shelves.

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, the permanent secretary in the ministry of health and child welfare, Gerald Gwiji, said that although Zimbabwe had not yet recorded any cases of Listeria, the country had already activated its surveillance teams to monitor importation of such products into the country.

“What makes this outbreak significant for us is that we do import quite significant food items, particularly cold processed foods into Zimbabwe from South Africa”.

Gwinji said that government had tightened food surveillance at border posts.

Since January 2017, 948 people in South Africa have contracted listeriosis – a disease caused by bacteria from soil, water, vegetation and animal faeces which can contaminate fresh food, notably meat, a report by AFP said.

At least 180 have died, according to official figures

Health officials said the source of the outbreak was an Enterprise Food plant in Polokwane.