Windhoek-A team of health inspectors has been dispatched to the country’s 14 regions to ensure food outlets comply with the government’s directive that imported ready-to-eat meat products from Rainbow Chicken and Enterprise Foods Ltd be removed from shop shelves.
The foods to be removed include polonies, Russians, frankfurters, Vienna sausages, all types of hams, all types of salamis, and smeerwors (liver spread) as they have been found to be contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which causes the disease listeriosis.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) in collaboration with the health ministry recently ordered a recall of ‘ready to eat’ cold meats from all shops and banned the import of these products from Rainbow Chicken and Enterprise Foods Ltd, South Africa.
So far the disease has killed nearly 200 people in South Africa. In Namibia one case has been identified of a 41-year-old man who is receiving treatment in a Windhoek hospital, after eating a Vienna he allegedly bought at a butchery in Tsumeb.
Benson Ntomwa, the deputy director for public and environmental health in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, told New Era yesterday that the teams are yet to reach all outlets.
“It will be advisable for people to completely stay away from those foods. Maybe we can go traditional and not live on canned food,” said Ntomwa.
Meanwhile, Braam van Niekerk, the head of procurement at Woermann Brock head office, told New Era the Prima Luncheon roll and Prima Viennas from Rainbow Chicken and Enterprise Foods Ltd are still on the shelves as they are not “affected by this”.
He also said Woermann Brock is not that much affected by the suspension because “we had very little Rainbow polony”.
Furthermore, Ntomwa who urged the public to read the labels, explained that the dispatched teams of health inspectors are only targeting the identified products because they have been identified as contaminated.
Ntomwa stressed on hygiene when handling food to avoid food contamination. He also said that “amongst all food producing outlets one outlet in South Africa was identified as the source of the bacteria”.
“That entails that there was no hygiene. For now, the health inspectors are targeting the identified source, namely the products from Rainbow Chicken and Enterprise Foods Ltd,” Ntomwa said.
But he also urged vendors to maintain cleanliness when handling food to avoid diseases. “The hepatitis E outbreak was because of poor hygiene,” said Ntomwa.
Several southern African countries have banned processed meat from South Africa, after the latter said it had identified the source of the food poisoning outbreak.
Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia all ordered a recall or suspension of imports.
Surveillance at points of entry has been strengthened in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance (Customs & Excise) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (Veterinary Services), according to a statement by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.