The ministry of Health has banned importation of meat products from South Africa following the outbreak of the deadly Listeria disease.

In a letter to all county public health officers and port health officers, Director of Public Health Kepha Ombacho says all meat products already in the market should also be recalled.

“In order to ensure that the health of the public is protected and as a precautionary meansure, you are required to stop the importation and sale of these products in the market while at the same time recall those that are already in the market. This information should be shared with all retail outlets so that they don not place the products on the shelves for sale,” he says.

The listeria outbreak has killed 180 people since January 2017, with nearly 1,000 cases reported.

The country’s government has blamed producers of cold meat products for delays in tracing the cause.

“This is the largest ever recorded outbreak of this severe form of listeriosis globally,” Peter K. Ben Embarek, who manages the World Health Organisation (WHO) International Food Safety Authorities Network, said.

The government, which has been criticised for taking too long to find the cause, on Sunday linked the outbreak to a meat sausage known as “polony” made by Tiger’s Enterprise Food.

It also said it was investigating a plant owned by RCL Foods that makes a similar product, whose shares also slid on Monday before recovering.

Several southern African states have banned processed meat from South Africa after it said it had identified the source of a food poisoning outbreak.

It ordered a recall of the product, prompting shops to clear their shelves.

Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia followed suit, all ordering a recall or suspending imports.

After health authorities ordered a recall of polony, supermarkets like Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Spar and Woolworths cleared it from their shelves, along with bacon, sausages and other processed meat products.

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Customers descended on the outlets to return their purchases and demand a refund.

Here is Dr Ombacho’s letter to health officials:

 

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