"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.
Products recalled include the full Enterprise chilled ready-to-eat meats, for example; all polony, salami, all shaved and cold meats, spreads, viennas and russians are impacted. Contact the Enterprise consumer care line for any queries 0860 33 33 10. #EnterpriseRecall— Enterprise Foods (@Enterprisefoods) March 5, 2018
Consumers have chastised the company for negligence – questioning their testing processes – and for not managing the situation better.
This outbreak shows that there are grave lapses in your food handling health protocols. You should shutdown immediately, your failures have caused severe and fatal injury to thousands of South African.— Lukhanyo Vangqa (@LukhanyoV) March 4, 2018
Tell us the whole story pic.twitter.com/XH2TFmj41N— MsMashiya (@Mashiya46339260) March 4, 2018
Hi, we are taking swift action to remove products named by the Health Ministry as sources of Listeria. You are welcome to return Enterprise and Rainbow cold meats for a refund https://t.co/6vKJaSzyiT— Shoprite SA (@Shoprite_SA) March 4, 2018
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.
What about the three Vienna's in my stomach already????— G Mosaku (@MoraMosaku) March 4, 2018
Aren't you going to pay us to consult a doctor as a result of consuming your products?— Mackson (@Sesalono1) March 4, 2018
I am sure that standards were lowered and shortcuts were taken, safety standards ignored, etc in order to maximize profits... we demand accountability please. Somebody must take responsibility!— Once Upon A Time (@GodfreyZihlwele) March 5, 2018
You guys think this is some kind of a joke, why are you quiet about those who are already affected by your unhealthy food? You only worry about us returning them and getting a refund.— Mologadi Kganyago (@Trompies015) March 5, 2018
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.
We are removing products that may be linked to the #listeriosis outbreak from our stores. Customers who bought any Enterprise product (incl Bokkie, Renown, Lifestyle, Mieliekip), or any Rainbow ready-to-eat products eg. Polony or Russians can return the product for a full refund.— Pick n Pay (@PicknPay) March 4, 2018
Hi, our Ritebrand cold meats are not packed by Enterprise or Rainbow and is therefore not affected by the manufacturers' recall. https://t.co/6vKJaSzyiT— Shoprite SA (@Shoprite_SA) March 5, 2018
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.
Has the #ListeriosisOutbreak put you off (processed) cold meats like polony, viennas etc?— HuffPost SouthAfrica (@HuffPostSA) March 5, 2018