LIFESTYLE
05/03/2018 11:11 SAST | Updated 05/03/2018 13:52 SAST

'Don't Compromise, Sanitise!'-- Enterprise Listeriosis Backlash

Consumers have not taken Enterprise's response to the listeriosis outbreak lightly, and major supermarkets are withdrawing the brand's products.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

"How could this have taken place?"

"What are your food testing processes?"

"What about my money?"

"WTF, Enterprise Foods?"

These are all questions outraged consumers have asked Tiger Brand division Enterprise Foods in the wake of South Africa's listeriosis outbreak.

Enterprise has been offering South Africans deli cold meats since 1917 and promises "superior quality you can trust", but the brand lost consumer trust overnight.

This follows an announcement by Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Sunday identifying an Enterprise facility in Polokwane as the source of the world's largest outbreak of listeriosis ever, according to the World Health Organisation.

The outbreak, caused by the bacterium listeria found in contaminated, uncooked food – but which can also be transferred to cooked foods served cold, like processed meats – has claimed 180 lives in South Africa in the past few months, and left hundreds more severely ill.

The company took to social media platforms to issue a national recall - and inform customers which products are being recalled. They have also issued contact details for any queries people may have about the recall, but if they thought that would calm customers down, they were mistaken – if anything, it ignited more disgruntlement.

Consumers have chastised the company for negligence – questioning their testing processes – and for not managing the situation better.

The announced cause of the outbreak caused shockwaves all over the country even among those so far unaffected by listeriosis, as others who had eaten Enterprise products recently began questioning their health status.

Supermarket giants Pick n Pay, Shoprite and Woolworths have already announced that they are withdrawing all Enterprise products from its shelves, and Shoprite has confirmed that its house brand is not packed by Enterprise.

Listeria is a bacterium that is naturally found in the environment and commonly occurs in soil, water, vegetation and in the faeces of some animals. It can contaminate a wide variety of food types, including meat and meat products, dairy products (unpasteurised and pasteurised), fresh and frozen produce (fruits, vegetables and sprouts) and ready-to-eat products.