Most worrying‚ however‚ is that as recently as September‚ four samples out of 116 tested positive. Results from another 10 samples are awaited.
“While the major implicated products and brands have been removed from retail stores‚ some tainted products remain in the food system‚” said Professor Lise Korsten‚ co-director of the Centre of Excellence in Food Security at UP.
“Considering rural areas and the informal sector… it is almost impossible to make sure all contaminated food products have been effectively removed from the whole system.
“In addition‚ some of our samples show the pathogen present in lesser-known brands that weren’t affected by the recall.”
While the formal sector was “highly regulated”‚ she said‚ the informal sector had a short food supply chain and the source of products was often not known. Another finding of the study was that the listeria contamination came from the packaging of polony rather than the meat.
Korsten said the battle against foodborne pathogens required warriors from all parts of the supply chain‚ but this was not happening. Many members of the food industry did not want to share information or allow independent environmental or product sampling once the outbreak was announced‚ she said.
Lawyers representing the victims of this year’s outbreak hope to approach the Johannesburg High Court by the end of the month to have a class action against Tiger Brands certified.