06/03/2018 03:40 GMT | Updated 06/03/2018 03:41 GMT

'No Direct Link Between Listeriosis Deaths And Our Products' -- Tiger Brands

Pick 'n Pay, Shoprite and Checkers have offered full refunds on some Enterprise and Rainbow products.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A couple leaves Tiger Brands factory shop in Germiston, Johannesburg, South Africa, March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Although Tiger Brands says it detected low levels of listeriosis at its food manufacturing plant, it denied any current direct links between the deaths of 180 people from the food-borne outbreak.

"There is no direct link to the deaths and our product at the moment," Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall said while addressing the media at The Forum, in Bryanston, on Monday afternoon.

This comes after Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday announced that the deadly listeria bacteria had been traced to Enterprise's Polokwane facility, which manufactures products such as polony.

READ: Listeriosis Outbreak: What You Need To Know

Enterprise Foods is a division of Tiger Brands.

Motsoaledi announced that the disease was traced after several children presented with gastroenteritis in Soweto earlier in the week. Tests were done and it was found that they had listeriosis.

MacDougall said they had suspended operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane and Germiston and added that the group had halted supply to trade.

More vigorous testing

He said despite the company receiving instructions from the Department of Health to only recall three products, a full voluntary recall of all chilled meat products was issued by Tiger Brands.

Chief operating officer Patrick Sithole said testing for listeria is usually conducted once a day, but was now being conducted once every hour.


Pick 'n Pay, Shoprite and Checkers have offered full refunds on some Enterprise and Rainbow products.

The Food Lover's Market group also offered a full refund to customers who bought Enterprise or Rainbow Chicken products bought at Food Lover's Market or Freshstop stores.

MacDougall said he had nothing negative to say about the health department's announcement on Sunday.

"We are working tirelessly to get to the bottom of this outbreak. Our first priority is the consumer, their health and safety and to get the affected products off the market," he said.

READ: 'What Happened To Tiger Brands Could Have Happened To Any Business'

According to him, Tiger Brands was not aware of any legal action against the company, but he assured the media that it would be ready should the time come.

The deadly food-borne illness in South Africa has been described by the World Health Organisation as the biggest documented outbreak of listeria.

-- News24