Despite a growing concern about the fatal listeriosis bacteria, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa insists the food on shop shelves is safe.
But the council added that residents should manage hygiene when preparing food.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced a death toll of 61 since January 2017 from listeriosis.
The source of the micro-organism outbreak is difficult to trace, but the council’s executive for food safety initiative, Matlou Setati, pictured, said products were thoroughly tested before they were distributed to retail stores.
Speaking in a panel discussion in Pretoria held by the National Press Club and various stakeholders yesterday, she said retailers were mandated to supply audits and conduct their own testing on their products before selling them to consumers.
“Our food is safe. We follow processes to ensure any raw material that is produced is tested. “We assure the consumers that we endeavour to follow strict safety management systems to contain micro-organisms and to try and make sure we clear out any dangers to keep them in control. “When each food product is produced, it is the responsibility of every manufacturer to ensure their products are safe before they go out,” she added.
However, several university studies have found that food sold by street vendors was often “very safe” as it has very little shelf life, said Food Focus’ Linda Jackson.
Jackson said the only concern regarding street vendor products was limited or no access to running water.
“But university findings have agreed. If I were to go to any street vendor in Pretoria, I would be purchasing a hot meal that was prepared today. “Street vendors have no shelflife issues. What is prepared today is sold today. “But they should remember that dipping something into water to make it look hygienic could be unsafe as the water might not be clean.”
Since there is no vaccine or preventative medication for listeriosis, consumers are urged to take precautionary measures by adhering to good hygiene and safe food preparation and storage practices.