South African researchers have warned about the risk of another outbreak after a study found Listeria in the beef sector.
The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Pretoria (UP) in 2019 and 2020 into the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in beef and beef products at abattoirs and retailers in the Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West provinces.
It showed that 4.6 percent of chilled carcasses sampled at seven abattoirs in Gauteng were positive for Listeria. This means that contaminated items could enter the food chain as beef products sold at retail outlets in the province.
The study, funded by Red Meat Research and Development South Africa, was prompted by the 2017-2018 outbreak of listeriosis with 1,065 confirmed cases and 218 deaths. It was traced to a ready-to-eat processed meat product called polony, made at a plant in Polokwane run by Enterprise Foods, which at that time was owned by Tiger Brands.
Ready-to-eat (RTE) food, including polony, were also positive for Listeria in the current study.