Authorities in Zimbabwe have warned that border officials will now search for and confiscate meat products sourced from South African company Tiger Brands, which has been fingered as the source of a deadly listeriosis outbreak.
Zimbabwe health and child care permanent secretary, Dr Gerald Gwinji, was quoted by the state-owned Herald on Tuesday as saying Zimbabwe had not yet recorded any cases of Listeria, but had since activated its surveillance teams to monitor importation of such products into the country.
“What makes this outbreak significant for us is that we do import quite significant food items, particularly cold processed foods into Zimbabwe from South Africa,” he said.
“They have identified a specific company in Polokwane called Enterprise, owned by Tiger Brands, which makes a lot of these cold processed foods.”
Dr Gwinji added: “What we have done as a country is tightening our food surveillance at border posts.”
In South Africa shops have removed meat products linked to the outbreak. Tiger Brands said on Monday that it had shut down two plants that produce cold meats.
"We are still to discover any batches of the food items in question, but the fact that South Africa has recalled specific products, it means that the products might no longer be on the market," said Dr Gwinji.
“However, we continue to increase our surveillance at the border posts and should products be found at the borders we advise our border control officers to confiscate, quarantine and send for destruction.
"Until we are clear that the outbreak is under control and that the specified food production plant is certified free from the infection we will not allow any of those products to come into the country.”
As many as 180 people have died in South Africa from listeriosis and many more have been infected in what the WHO has described as the worst-ever outbreak of the disease.