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Listeriosis outbreak traced to Enterprise facility in Polokwane

Johannesburg - The outbreak of listeriosis has been traced to an Enterprise Foods facility in Polokwane, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Sunday. 

"We can now conclude scientifically that the source of the present outbreak is the Enterprise Food production facility located in Polokwane," he said at the offices of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg.

Listeria has been traced to another Enterprise facility in Germiston on the East Rand, and a Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State, but further tests were needed as the sequence type was not yet known.

The National Consumer Commission has issued safety recall notices to those manufacturers and facilities, and the companies are now responsible for coming up with the recall plan. 

The plan must be sufficient to cover their entire distribution chain, and the facilities will also have to resource and pay for the implementation.

Motsoaledi said several children presented with gastroenteritis in Soweto earlier in the week. Tests were done, and it was found that they had listeriosis. The strain they were affected with, which was the same for the larger outbreak, was traced to Enterprise's Polokwane facility. 

Motsoaledi said statistics on March 2 show that the outbreak has claimed about 180 lives and 948 laboratory-confirmed cases had been reported to the NICD. 

He said while polony was a definite source, other products such as Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats not typically cooked could also be affected due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Pregnant women, neonates, elderly people and anyone with weakened systems should "not go near" these products.

Motsoaledi said retailers must clean their fridges, meat slicers, and either remove the ready-to-eat meat products or place them in plastic bags in separate fridges - ahead of the recall. 

"I’ve already emptied [out] my fridge this morning… I woke up my wife – [and told let’s] just take these things out," he said.  "Any human being in the country who has these products in their fridge must take them out immediately." 

Listeria is a bacterium that is naturally found in the environment - it commonly occurs in soil, water, vegetation and in the faeces of some animals. It can contaminate a wide variety of food types, including meat and meat products, dairy products (unpasteurised and pasteurised), fresh and frozen produce (fruits, vegetables and sprouts) and ready-to-eat products.

By: Tammy Petersen

Situation Report on Listeriosis Outbreak, South Africa, 2018

A total of 945 cases have been reported since 1 January 2017, with 30 additional cases recorded since the last update (20 February 2018).

Outcome at the end of hospitalisation is known for an additional 18 cases, bringing the total with known outcome to 635/945 (67%) patients. 176 (19%) patients are known to have died. 

At present, the source of the outbreak is not known, although progress is being made in each area of the investigations listed below. 

The public are advised that processed, ready-to-eat meat products, soft cheeses, and unpasteurised milk and dairy products should be avoided by persons who are at risk of listeriosis. In addition, processed, ready-to-eat meat products include viennas, polonies, russians, ham, other ‘cold’ meats, sausages, various corned meats, salami, pepperoni and similar products typically found in the processed meat sections of food retailers and butcheries should be avoided, or thoroughly cooked in boiling water or heated at high temperatures of 70°C or higher before eating. 

Read the full report here

Cattle Outlook: Meat Demand Slows in First Half of 2016

US - The August WASDE predicts this fall will bring our first 15 billion bushel corn harvest and the first 4 billion bushel soybean harvest. This is good news for feeder cattle prices, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown, Ag Economics, MU.

US beef exports during June were down 0.5 per cent compared to a year ago. Japan, South Korea, Canada and Mexico, respectively, were the top three destinations for US beef exports in June. Beef exports were up 2.0 per cent during the first half of 2016.

Beef imports were down 16.3 per cent in June and down 13.0 per cent in the first half of 2016. A lot less beef is coming in from Australia because of better grazing conditions there.

Imports of live cattle from Canada were down 6.9 per cent in June and down 10.4 per cent in the first half of 2016. Cattle imports from Mexico were down 42.6 per cent in June and down 16.0 per cent in the first half compared to January-June 2015.

Domestic demand for beef was up 2.2 per cent in June, but down 1.8 per cent in the first half of 2016. Lacklustre growth in the US economy has left meat demand slightly lower than last year. Overall meat demand was down 1.1 per cent during January-June compared to a year earlier. Export

Last week fed cattle prices were lower in moderate sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $116.91/cwt, down $2.03 from the previous week's average and down $35.82 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $186.86/cwt, down $1.06 from the week before and down $52.43 from a year ago.

Beef cutout was higher last week. On Friday morning, the choice boxed beef cutout value was $201.51/cwt, up $2.56 from the previous Friday. The select carcass cutout on Friday morning was $193.51/cwt, up $3.06 from the previous week.

Last week's cattle slaughter totalled 581,000 head, down 0.7 per cent from the previous week, but up 6.8 per cent from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on July 30 was 883 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before, down 3 pounds from a year ago, and below the year-ago level for the 13th consecutive week.

The August live cattle futures contract settled at $116.32/cwt on Friday, down $1.35 for the week. October fed cattle settled at $114.52/cwt, down $1.00 from the previous Friday. December fed cattle futures settled at $115.05/cwt.

August feeder cattle futures ended the week at $149.07/cwt, down 58 cents from a week earlier. September feeder cattle gained 35 cents this week to settle at $147.55/cwt. October feeder cattle closed the week up 38 cents at $144.25/cwt.


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