Meatco products safe from listeria risk

09 Mar 2018

Earlier this week, Meatco issued a media release assuring our consumers and the general public that Meatco products are safe to use following the outbreak of listeria in South Africa.

This article aims to provide context and to explain our production processes that gives us that assurance. 

It is important to clarify from the onset that our corned meat is cooked in a sterilized can. The basic purpose of this packaging is to protect the meat products from undesirable impacts on quality, including microbiological and physio-chemical alterations.

According to Meatco Quality Assurance Executive, Rosa Katjivena, Meatco does not compromise on the quality of its products. She said in the food processing industry, food safety and quality assurance requires diverse technical and analytical programmes.

Quality Assurance personnel continually monitor incoming raw products to ensure compliance with relevant standards, microbiological standards, and government regulations.

As the organisation’s vision states: “Meatco will have the most sought-after meat brands in selected markets in the long-term interests of stakeholders”. We put this to practice by always guaranteeing that our clients get the highest quality products.

Our canned meat range is part of the legacy of Meatco’s production since the early 1980s. The Texan, Eloolo and Ranch brands, which are household names in Namibia and Southern Africa, are part of a long and proud tradition for Meatco.

Our canning operation annually produces almost 16 million cans of corned meat of various sizes according to specific recipes that many have grown to love. Our canned products are ISO 9001, HACCP- and Halaal-certified.

While our products are safe to use, Meatco as a responsible corporate citizen feels obligated to educate the general public about listeriosis in brief.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) regards the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa as the worst in global history.

But what is listeriosis?

Listeria is a family of bacteria commonly found in our environment and is usually harmless. Listeria monocytogenes is one strain of the listeria family that can cause harm. The illness is called listeriosis.

This dangerous strain is transferred from the environment to unprocessed foods of animal products or ready to eat processed meats, if hygiene rules are not applied correctly.

Eating foods containing high levels of listeria monocytogenes is generally the cause of illness.

Listeria can cause:

• Nausea                                                             • Vomiting

• Cramps                                                             • Diarrhoea or constipation

• Headache and/or convulsion                            • Fever

Symptoms of listeria usually appear within 2 to 3 days after exposure. People most at risk of getting sick from listeria exposure are: pregnant women, babies, the elderly and those with weak immune systems.

How is it spread?

• Listeria is spread by eating food that is contaminated with listeria monocytogenes.

• Food that is not properly washed, cooked/pasteurized, refrigerated, or has been in contact with contaminated cooking surfaces may carry listeria monocytogenes.

What can be done to prevent the spread of listeria?

• Listeria is found everywhere in the environment, so there may be no connection between different outbreaks. The key is to keep the bacteria out of the food chain, either by washing (surfaces of fruit and vegetables), heating (milk pasteurisation, meat cooking), and general hygiene (processing, packaging and cross-contamination).

• Store raw meat on shelves below cooked or open food.

• Clean your hands before, during and after handling any type of food, especially raw meat and poultry.

• Refrigerate cold food promptly. Keep the refrigerator at 4 degrees Celsius.

• Cook thoroughly or boil foods such as hot dogs and poultry products until they are steaming hot.

• Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

• Clean all utensils, cutting boards and work surfaces with a mild bleach solution (5ml/1 tsp bleach per 750 ml/3 cups of water) before and after using. Separate utensils for raw and cooked foods.

• Follow “use by” dates especially on packaged foods with a long shelf life and use right away after opening.

• Pregnant women and people with weak immune systems should thoroughly reheat or steam ready-to-eat meat (such as hot dogs) and poultry products before eating.

• It is recommended that pregnant women not eat cold cuts and unpasteurized cheese.

Meatco: Quality Assurance