The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is raising alarm that food products containing deadly listeriosis bacteria may have found their way onto the Ghanaian market. It has therefore intensified its surveillance to confiscate and destroy some food products imported from South Africa. According to the FDA, it has received information from the South African Authorities on the outbreak there which revealed that ready-to-eat (RTE) processed meat products produced by Enterprise Foods in Polokwane, South Africa (a subsidiary of the Tiger Brands Company) are responsible for the outbreak. An alert issued by the FDA to update the public on the listeriosis said the Authority has increased its monitoring at the ports of entry for meat products from South Africa. “As Ghana is a known export country for Enterprise Foods the INFOSAN has warned that there is a possibility of some of the recalled products having been exported to Ghana,” the FDA said in a statement issued on Thursday. It has therefore warned that no products from Enterprise Foods, South Africa should be imported into the country. Listeria monocytogenes is typically a food-borne organism which causes the illness called listeriosis and can grow and reproduce inside the host cell. Listeria is a bacterium that is naturally found in the environment and is capable of surviving with or without oxygen. It therefore has the ability to survive and grow at temperatures as low as 0°C thereby allowing multiplication at refrigeration temperatures. It commonly occurs in soil, water, vegetation and in the faeces of some animals. Listeria monocytogenes has been associated with foods such as raw milk, pasteurized fluid milk, cheeses (particularly soft-ripened varieties), ice cream, raw vegetables, fermented raw-meat sausages, raw and cooked poultry, raw meats (of all types), and raw and smoked fish. This fact, coupled with variable incubation period can range from 6 hours to 70 days. The prevention of listeriosis is similar to guidance used to help prevent other foodborne illnesses. This includes practicing safe food handling and following the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food (1. Keep clean. 2. Separate raw and cooked Food. 3. Cook and reheat thoroughly. 4 Keep food at safe temperatures. 5. Use safe water and raw materials.) Additionally, persons in high risk groups should:
- Avoid consuming ready to eat meat products such as sausages, hams, patés and meat spreads.
- Read and carefully follow the shelf life period and storage temperatures indicated on the product label to ensure that products are not from Enterprise Foods, Polokwane, South Africa (a subsidiary of the Tiger Brands Company)