Tanzania lifts ban on some meat products from South Africa

Wednesday June 13 2018

Frozen meat.

Frozen meat. Tanzania has partially lifted the importation ban on processed meat products from South Africa. The ban had been imposed following outbreak of listeriosis viral disease. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By BEATRICE MATERU
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Tanzania has partially lifted the importation ban on processed meat products from South Africa.

The country had blocked the entry of the meat following a listeria outbreak in Africa’s second largest economy.

The disease is caused by a naturally-occurring Listeria monocytogenes bacteria from soil, water, vegetation and animal faeces which can contaminate fresh food, notably meat.

“Our findings show there is no presence of the bacteria that could cause the deadly outbreak in the country, therefore importation ban on meat and its products from South Africa is now lifted with effect from the date of this notice, 11 June 2018,” the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) said.

TFDA, however said, as a precautionary measure, the ban still holds for Enterprise Foods factories in Polokwane and Germiston, owned by Tiger Brands, and RCL Foods’ Rainbow Chicken, which were identified as the source of the outbreak.

Tanzania suspended meat imports from South Africa three months ago after reports that nearly one thousand people in South Africa had contracted listeriosis since January last year.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the epidemic is the world’s largest listeria outbreak that has killed more than 200 people.

Tanzania was among more than a dozen countries that imposed the meat products imports. They are Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, eSwatini, and Zimbabwe.

The infection mainly affects children and has a three-week incubation period, making it difficult to track.

Contamination in humans — especially those with compromised immune systems — can result in flu-like illness, infection of the bloodstream and, in severe cases, infection of the brain which can prove fatal.

The disease is readily treatable with antibiotics.

-Additional reporting from AFP.