Listeriosis: What you need to know and do

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It remains vital that proper hygiene and food safety protocols should be followed in order to prevent the further spread of the deadly Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.

This comes after Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi announced that government has narrowed down the sources of the Listeriosis outbreak which resulted in the death of 180 people and the hospitalisation of numerous others. Motsoaledi said the recent outbreak was traced to a facility in Polokwane that produces processed meat products.

The high risk groups for Listeriosis are:

• Pregnant women

• Neonates (first 28 days of life)

• Very young infants

• Elderly persons > 65 years of age

• Anyone with a weakened immune system (due to HIV infection, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, etc.)

Persons in high risk groups should:

• avoid consuming dairy products made of unpasteurised milk; deli meats and ready-to-eat meat products such as sausages, hams, patés and meat spreads, as well as cold-smoked seafood (such as smoked salmon), and

• read and carefully follow the shelf-life period and storage temperatures indicated on the product label.

Here are five keys to safer food to prevent the spread of Listeriosis:

1. Wash your hands, often, before handling food and during food preparation.

Wash your hands after going to the toilet. Wash and sanitise all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation. Protect kitchen areas and food from insects, pests and animals.

2. Separate raw and cooked foods. Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods. Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods. Store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods. Do not use food beyond its expiry date.

3. Cook everything thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood. Bring foods like soups and stews to a full boil. For meat and poultry, make sure that juices running from the meat after cooking are clear.

4. Keep food at safe temperatures. Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Refrigerate all cooked and perishable food promptly. Keep cooked food hot prior to serving. Do not store food too long, not even in the refrigerator. Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature.

5. Use safe water and raw materials. Use safe water or treat it to make it safe

Select fresh and wholesome foods. Choose foods processed for safety, such as pasteurised milk. Wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw.

The symptoms of Listeriosis are usually mild and may include fever, myalgia (pain in a muscle or group of muscles), malaise and sometimes nausea or diarrhoea.

In at-risk patients, spread of infection to the nervous system can cause meningitis leading to headaches, confusion, stiff neck, loss of balance or convulsions. Bacteraemia may also occur.

If any of these symptoms occur, contact your doctor or visit your nearest clinic or emergency centre immediately.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at [email protected] or phone us on 011 955 1130.I 

For free daily local news on the West Rand, also visit our sister websites: 

Randfontein Herald

Roodepoort Record

Get It Joburg West Magazine

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Janine Viljoen

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