Government halts listeria tests on imported meat

Government halts listeria tests on imported meat.
Government halts listeria tests on imported meat.
Image: 123RF/ Jarun Ontakrai

South African officials have been instructed to stop testing imported chicken products for listeria‚ according to Patricia Kopane‚ a Democratic Alliance alliance MP‚ who is in possession of a letter containing the order.

Making it public on Thursday‚ Kopane said the letter is from the Chief Environmental Health and Port Health Services‚ instructing Port Health Officials.

According to the letter‚ because Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has identified the source of the current listeriosis outbreak at cold meats “processing plants located in the country”‚ the minister thinks there is no need to do any further testing.

But‚ Kopane said‚ "it still remains unclear how these factories were contaminated in the first place".

"It is outrageous that the Health Department would stop the testing of imported meats‚ considering that just recently it was revealed that Australia has been exporting listeria contaminated products. In Brazil‚ listeria is not recognised as a notifiable disease and is a major distributor of meat products which South Africa imports. It is‚ therefore‚ vital that South Africa tests imported goods on an ongoing basis to ensure that our people are protected against any possible contamination."

She called on the government to:

- Institute an over-arching independent body to regulate and monitor food safety and security in the country‚ "as there are currently too many bodies with no specific mandate";

- Adopt interim norms and standards to ensure that the outbreak is contained;

and

- Institute permanent standards‚ regulations and mechanisms for testing of trade‚ agriculture and other food industries.

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