Shares in food company Tiger Brands plunged on Monday after the company’s factory that makes processed meat was identified by government and health authorities as the source of the outbreak of Listeriosis that has claimed 180 lives.

The news that has shocked South African meat lovers broke on Sunday and Tiger Brands received an order from the National Consumer Commission to conduct a recall of Enterprise Polony, Enterprise Frankfurters and Enterprise Smoked Russians.

Tiger Brands says it has gone further to suspend operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane and Germiston.

At one stage shares in the food giant fell by as much as 13% on Monday morning, before recovering some of the losses.

They rose briefly during the company’s press conference in the afternoon. By the close of business, however, the shares were down by 7.5%.

Shares in RCL Foods – that makes Rainbow Polony – also tumbled on Monday.

RCL Foods said it has taken the measure of suspending all production of polony.

Government has not identified the deadly strain of Listerios known as ST6, but it is investigating an RCL plant.

The Chief Executive Officer of Tiger Brands, Lawrence McDougall has said that there is no proven link between the Enterprise plant and the deaths of 180 people.

McDougall says that the company has high health and safety standards.

McDougall says there are no direct links to any deaths that the company is aware of.

The National Consumer Commission says the public is likely to find out on Tuesday how to safely dispose of ready-to-eat processed food products in the light of the outbreak.

The commission has warned consumers against throwing the foods in their bins as this could result in another health hazard.

Spokesperson Trevor Hattingh says after Monday’s meeting, the two companies are expected to provide feedback on the way forward at least within the next 24 hours.

“Their recall strategy; two, their recall communication plan; three, their disposal plan. We need to be absolutely sure together with the Department of Health that these products are safely disposed of. We’ve spoken to Tiger Brands. We’ve spoken to RCL (Rainbow Chicken Limited); they, themselves, also informed us that as part of their consumer communication, they will be providing information in so far as how these items should be disposed of. Information will be communicated, hopefully by tomorrow (Tuesday).”

Meanwhile, Enterprise factory in Polokwane has refunded consumers who bought products from them.

Consumers flock into the factory daily to buy products for business and household purposes. However, on Monday they came in large numbers to return products in exchange for their cash.

The consumers grew increasingly frustrated as they waited with no word from the management and suddenly there was a bit of pandemonium.

The listeriosis saga came as a shock for business people and consumers alike.

“It’s a disaster for some us, especially us in businesses starting from now. The minister said it, especially on kotas (bunny chow), they must not buy them totally. So, we don’t have a business anymore,” says business owner Seipei Rasethaba.

Hundreds of workers at the factory remain anxious with fear of losing their jobs.

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