There is a lot of information circulating on our televisions, radios and social media platforms regarding the Listeriosis outbreak and what you as a consumer should do to protect yourself and your family.
Sadly, the use of these communication methods does not ensure that every single potential consumer is informed.
In particular, we suggest schools need to reach out to parents by using their own newsletters and class instruction to educate children about the nature of the outbreak, products affected as well as the symptoms of Listeriosis. Right now, effective communication is crucial, and nobody should be excluded.
Listeriosis is a serious bacterial disease caused by the bacterium(germ), Listeria monocytogenes. The bacterium is commonly found in nature in soil, water and contaminated food. Animals and food products such as vegetables can become contaminated from these sources. It is not visible to the human eye and although food may appear to be okay, it could be contaminated. This is what makes it so difficult to believe that something could be wrong with the product – it looks fine and smells good, but it may be very dangerous.
Anyone can get Listeriosis. However, those at high risk of severe disease are newborns, the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women and their unborn babies; and those with underlying conditions such as HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver or kidney disease.
Infection with Listeria usually results in gastro-enteritis with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. However, in persons with weak immunity, Listeriosis can lead to meningitis leading to headaches, confusion, stiff neck, loss of balance or convulsions and even septicaemia. In pregnant women, Listeriosis may results in pregnancy loss (abortion) along with meningitis of their infant.
Listeriosis is usually spread through eating contaminated food products most frequently with raw or unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses, but also vegetables, processed foods, ready-to-eat meats and smoked fish products.
The Listeria bacterium can also be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby during pregnancy or at the time of birth.
If you are pregnant avoid any of the foods:
Practice good hygiene in your kitchen
We don’t need more media hype or angry consumers – now we need to work together to save lives. The National Consumer Commission has issued a recall for all Enterprise processed meats. In a nutshell this is what we as parents, school teachers and every other person should be doing to safe guard ourselves as well as our children.
Please also be responsible in disposing of the product. In our country we have hungry people who are living off whatever we throw away. Be responsible and destroy the packaging and the product before you dispose of it in your dustbins. Bury the product (only if you do not have pets) or burn it – this way we know for sure that it cannot be retrieved from a garbage bag or dump site.
South Africa has faced many challenges in the past – we are a strong and caring nation so let’s work together!
Author: Debbie Brandt - Progress excellence