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21/03/18: South African poultry plant closes amid deadly Listeria outbreak investigation

13E060E8-76B2-4384-A67E181FBA2A7F0DThe poultry plant where Listeria was found during South Africa’s deadly Listeria outbreak has shut down. Thus far, 180 deaths since January 2017 have been confirmed in the world’s worst Listeria outbreak ever recorded.

The Tiger Brands factory in Pretoria produced a ready-to-eat meat product known as polony. That product has since been recalled, along with the same product made by RCL Foods. Despite an official investigation underway, RCL claims that no deadly strain of Listeria has been found at its processing plant. Tiger Brands says that it has not been confirmed whether or not the Listeria strain found at its plant is the same one that has caused the deadly outbreak. In a statement, Tiger Brands says they will be sending samples to officials to conduct whole-genome sequencing.

Tiger Brands has estimated a $3 million (U.S.) loss within the company’s meat sector alone in March 2018. Two pending class action lawsuits waged against the company total $35 million (U.S.).

The deadly outbreak has negatively affected not only South Africa’s processed meat industry but also dairy and fresh produce. Imports of these items have been banned in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Processed meat imports have been banned in Mozambique and Namibia. In fact, Mozambique officials say they have destroyed about 55 tons of processed meat from Tiger Brands and RCL Foods. The same products have been recalled in Botswana. In Malawi, food inspectors are looking more closely at foods imported from South Africa.

A second Tiger Brands factory near Johannesburg is also being investigated by health officials.

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