Listeria detected at Tiger Brands Pretoria plant

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South African food company Tiger Brands said on Monday it had decided the recall to include all products at the Pretoria facility of its Value Added Meat Products (VAMP) brand, after similar earlier moves at its Polokwane and Germiston plants over a listeriosis outbreak.

“Production at the plant, which produces the company’s SNAX brand, will also be suspended,” the company said in a statement. “This decision was taken as a result of the detection of Listeria monocytogenes at the facility, following heightened testing protocols which have been introduced.”

Tiger Brands said on March 5 it was immediately recalling its Enterprise ready-to-eat chilled processed meat product range after the health minister identified it as the source of a deadly listeriosis outbreak.

But its Chief Executive Laurence MacDoughall later told journalists that there was no direct links between the deaths of 180 people from listeriosis and its products.

On Monday the company said it had taken its latest decision over the Pretoria facility after listeria monocytogenes were detected following the introduction of heightened testing protocols.

“Given the suspension of operations at the Polokwane and Germiston sites, which are the primary recipients of the production of the company’s Clayville abattoir, operations at the Clayville abattoir are being wound down with the objective of suspending operations completely by 31 March 2018,” it said.

In estimated the cost of the recalls and suspension of production at the Polokwane, Germiston, Pretoria and Clayville sites, including the cost of destruction of the affected products, raw materials and work in progress, at between R337 million and R377 million on a pre-tax basis.

“The VAMP business is estimated to record a loss before interest and taxation of between R28 million and R33 million for the March trading period which runs from 25 February to 31 March,” it said.

“At this point in time, no guidance is available as to when the Polokwane, Germiston, Pretoria or Clayville facilities will resume operations.”

On Friday, Tiger Brands was served with an application, for an order declaring the constitution of two classes for claims, the first comprising all people who consumed a processed meat product manufactured by the company and who became ill as a result of such food product being contaminated with Listeria any time between 1 May 2017 to the date of issue of summons in a class action to be brought.

The second class comprises the dependants of such persons.

The total amount claimed against Tiger Brands and its subsidiary Enterprise Foods is estimated at R425 million.