Listeriosis fears forces Zim to scale up food surveillance

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Listeriosis fears forces Zim to scale up food surveillance

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 20, 2018

    Charity Ruzvidzo

     

    The government has tightened food surveillance at the Beitbridge border post following a massive outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa.

     

    In a statement, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Gerald Gwinji said the country is on the outlook for listeriosis as South Africa is one of its largest trading partners.

     

    “The outbreak is significant to us because we import quite a huge amount of food items, particularly cold processed foods from South Africa to Zimbabwe. They have identified a specific company called Enterprise Tiger Brands which makes a lot of processed meats. Interestingly, the listeria, the causative bacteria, survives in refrigerators. 

     

    So, we have tightened food surveillance at the borders in terms of such products coming from South Africa,” he said.

     

    The health ministry says Zimbabwe has not recorded any case of listeriosis.

     

    In addition to food surveillance at border posts, other measures have been put in place to ensure the diseases remains confined to South Africa.

     

    “Cross border collaboration and sharing of information on disease outbreak with our neighbor is being strengthened. International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 prohibits trade restriction due to disease outbreaks. Also, there is inspection of food outlets and companies that are located at risk areas and border districts.

     

    “There is temperature monitoring of travelers from risky areas at border posts and airports and strict hygiene control measures of the environment where food is manufactured and kept through inspection of premises and factories,” said the Ministry.

     

    Zimbabweans have been urged to exercise extreme caution.

     

    “Meanwhile people should desist from carrying ready to eat foods such as Viennas, ham, meat spread, corned meat, salami and pepperoni from identified source of the disease outbreak into the country. The Ministry of Health will be monitoring this to make sure that the disease is not introduced to the country,” said the Ministry.

     

    Listeriosis is a rare food borne disease found in 10 cases per million people, it is spread from consumption of foods that are contaminated by the bacteria listeria monocytogenes.

     

    These high risk foods include ready to eat meat products such as cooked, cured and fermented meats, sausages, soft cheeses and cold smoked fishery products. 

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