Publisher’s Platform: It has actually almost been 6 years considering that over 1,000 individuals were sickened and over 200 passed away from Listeria-tainted Polony in South Africa

A brand-new journal short article on the polony disaster was simply released: ” Cost evaluation of listeriosis (Listeria monocytogenes) incident in South Africa in 2017 and its food security ramifications.”

Some bottom lines:

Quote the loss of 204 that passed away was at least $240,000,000 United States

Hospitalization expenses were at least $10,400,000 United States

Loss to services was at least $15,000,000 United States

This does not even represent future medical costs and/or lost efficiency to those that made it through and who have life-altering issues.

And, what about the psychological expense of the survivors?

Here is the abstract:

Routine break outs of foodborne pathogens have actually led to food security issues, due to health ramifications and expense effects. Event of Listeria monocytogenes in foods and listeriosis have actually been reported in industrialized nations; nevertheless, paperwork of listeriosis in South Africa is restricted. In 2017– 2018, Listeria was reported on polony (processed deli meat) and listeriosis was observed in South Africa (L. monocytogenes series type 6 (ST-6) was recognized as the causal representative for listeriosis). Due to its possible results, we carried out expense quotes to evaluate the ramifications of listeriosis break out with regard to diseases, hospitalizations and deaths, and efficiency losses. Expense quotes were calculated on openly offered information by utilizing USDA-ERS expense calculation design for Listeria. Listeriosis had considerable effects, as death of 204 people with validated listeriosis cases was reported, with babies having the greatest percent of deaths (42%). The expense appraisal of death cases was over US$ 260 million. Hospitalization expenses connected with one-month healing from listeriosis were approximated at US$ 10.4 million. Performance losses credited to listeriosis for people and export worth losses for food mill remained in excess of US$ 15 million. Boost of food precaution in South Africa might decrease foodborne illness break outs. Pre-emptive pathogen detection, hygienic treatments and bacterial inactivation can improve control of L. monocytogenes in food processing environments.

Here is what took place and why:

We are now beyond 5 years from the date that the NICD revealed the association in between Tiger Brands’ polony items and the break out, and the work done by all celebrations has actually just created more proof that the NICD’s and Tiger Brands’ conclusions are precise. There is no proof to the contrary.

In 2017 and 2018, the world’s biggest and most dangerous break out of listeriosis happened in numerous provinces of South Africa (Figure 1). The break out was triggered by polluted polony, a ready-to-eat, processed meat item. Ready-to-eat, processed meats are a popular car for listeriosis break outs (Thomas et al., 2020). The Minister of Health stated that there was a break out of listeriosis on December 5, 2017, and, on March 4, 2018, even more recognized Tiger Brands’ polony items as the reason for the break out. The Minister of Health advised Tiger Brands to remember all polony items the very same day. See usually, Minister of Health September 3, 2018, Media Statement. The Ministry of Health based its conclusions on the investigative findings of the Joint Public Health Emergency Co-ordinating Committee, which was developed for the particular function of determining the reason for the break out and establishing procedures to avoid additional health problems and other break outs connected with processed meat items typically. Id. The appropriate epidemiologic findings are stated in the paragraphs that follow.

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Figure 1. Occurrence of Laboratory-Confirmed Listeriosis Cases throughout the Outbreak Period, According to South African Districts (Thomas et al., 2020).

Cases were reported from throughout the nation, with a lot of cases reported from Gauteng Province (58%). Females represented 55% of overall cases. The ages of cases varied from birth to 93 years. Neonates (aged ₤ 28 days) were the most afflicted age, representing 43% of cases. This was followed by grownups of 15 to 49 years of age, representing 32% of cases. The illness result was understood for 806/1,060 (76%) of cases; 27% (216/806) had the recognized result “passed away” (Smith et al., 2019).

Listeriosis is a major foodborne infection with a case-fatality rate (” death rate”) of 20-30% (Thomas et al., 2020). Individuals mainly impacted by listeriosis have impaired cell-mediated resistance. This consists of those who are pregnant, senior, or immunocompromised from conditions such as HIV, persistent illness, or immunosuppressive treatment (Thomas et al., 2020). The particular break out stress connected with the break out was Lm ST6. There are 2 manner ins which listeriosis can manifest: febrile gastroenteritis and intrusive listeriosis (Coulombier). Intrusive listeriosis is defined by bacteraemia, meningitis, pneumonia, endocarditis, and sepsis (Smith et al., 2019).

An overall of 1,060 cases were reported throughout the duration of January 11, 2017, to July 17, 2018 (Figure 2)[1]The break out duration was specified as a period of time throughout which case numbers gone beyond and stayed above a weekly limit of 5 cases per epidemiological week (Thomas et al., 2020). At the peak of the break out (mid-November 2017), 41 listeriosis cases were reported in a single week. Prior to this break out, listeriosis was not a reportable illness in South Africa; for that reason, details is not offered on the occurrence, public health, and description of clusters/outbreaks on listeriosis. Due to the absence of monitoring information, the standard variety of listeriosis cases was approximated from counts of listeriosis cases in 2016.

It is understood that in 2015 and 2016, clusters of listeriosis happened in South Africa. The 2015 listeriosis cluster included 7 cases overall, and the primary pressure was Lm ST6. Scientists did not have adequate epidemiologic proof to link the 2015 cluster to any particular food item (Shuping et al., 2015). For the 2016 cluster, retrospective analysis of Lm cases from the years 2012-2016 was utilized to compute the anticipated case numbers for many years 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 in the Gauteng province (Mathebula et al., 2016)[2]Due to the fact that there were just 3 cases in the 2016 cluster, scientists required to approximate the standard variety of cases.

When identifying if a cluster of illness is categorized as a break out or epidemic, it is important to understand what the standard variety of diseases remains in the population of interest. An epidemic describes a boost in the variety of cases of an illness, above what is typically anticipated because population because location, and a break out is specified the exact same however is frequently utilized for a more minimal geographical location (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]2012).

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Figure 2. Circulation of Laboratory-Confirmed Cases of Listeriosis, According to Outbreak Week and Major Events (January 1, 2017 to August 21, 2018) (Thomas et al., 2020).

Case meanings are utilized in break out examinations to assist recognize cases who are related to the break out. A case meaning consists of requirements such as the subject population, linked area, time, scientific functions, and/or lab test results if offered (CDC, 2012). The preliminary case meaning for the main listeriosis break out consisted of all cases of listeriosis that happened in South Africa from 2017 to 2018. The preliminary case meaning was suitable due to the absence of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) information at the start of the examination. Multilocus sequencing typing (MLST) was utilized later on to evaluate the WGS arises from all feasible isolates acquired from case-patients. Scientist found that 93% of the medical isolates gathered from cases throughout the break out duration were Lm ST6 (Thomas et al., 2020; Gerner-Smidt). The case meaning later on consisted of series typing info to increase the possibility of recognizing a typical source (Besser). This finding likewise revealed that the break out stress of Listeriosis was definitively the Lm ST6 stress.

Even more, we keep in mind that private investigators completely evaluated the theoretical possibility that Lm ST6 was originating from more than simply Tiger Brands’ polony items. In other words, after carrying out ecological examinations at all 157 ready-to-eat meat production centers in South Africa, there was no Lm ST6 in any other items or centers other than Tiger Brands.

Together with the NCID’s clear declarations that Tiger Brands polony items were the source of the break out, based upon epidemiologic and ecological proof, the constellation of all proof conclusively develops that Tiger Brands’ polony items remained in truth the sole source. There is no extra analysis that will materially alter these truths.

Based upon its examination findings, the Minister of Health provided a recall of Tiger Brand’s ready-to-eat meat items produced at the Enterprise center. The Minister of Health likewise remembered all ready-to-eat meat items produced at Rainbow Foods, however epidemiologic and ecological findings throughout the examination revealed that this was a preventive procedure just– i.e., the Listeria determined at the Rainbow Foods’ production center on ecological screening was not Lm ST6, and for that reason had no causal association with health problem in the break out. See Minister of Health March 4, 2017 Statement. Quickly after Tiger Brands’ recall, the break out basically stopped (Figure 3).

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Figure 3. Epidemic curve of laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases by date of medical specimen collection (n= 1 038) and series type (ST) (n= 564), South Africa, 01 January 2017 to 5 June 2018 (n= 1049)

The ecological and epidemiologic investigative findings develop the most likely causal nexus in between Tiger Brands’ polony items and many all Listeriosis cases that took place in South Africa previously, throughout, and after the break out duration. (Coulombier). As specified above, 93% of medical isolates that went through sequencing were revealed to be Lm ST6, the stress that was both epidemiologically related to disease and consistently discovered in the production environment at the Enterprise center, and no place else. Not all isolates might be sequenced, due to the absence of lab resources and workers offered (Besser). Based upon the high portion of Lm ST6 scientific isolates, it is extremely most likely that a comparable portion of non-sequenced isolates would have been Lm ST6 if sequencing might have been done (Coulombier). As more assistance that there was no distinction in between the circulation of series types amongst the non-sequenced samples and the circulation of series types observed in the sequenced samples, the procedure of choosing case isolates to be sequenced was not prejudiced. It is a statistically legitimate and provable truth that, in the lack of proof to the contrary– i.e., sequencing that revealed that a medical isolate was not Lm ST6– a listeriosis client identified throughout the break out duration had a > 90% possibility of being related to the break out even without verified lab outcomes (Gerner-Smidt).

After spotting the break out, the Centre for Enteric Diseases, a part of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, performed an embedded case-control research study that offered proof that cases with Lm ST6 infections were most likely to have actually consumed polony than those with non- Lm ST6 infections (Thomas et. al, 2020). In break out examinations, case-control analysis is carried out to approximate the chances ratio for the association in between particular food products and the outbreak-associated disease. For this embedded case-control research study, case clients were those with Lm ST6 infections, and control clients were individuals contaminated by another pressure of LM (i.e., not Lm ST6) throughout the break out duration. Arise from this research study reveal that the chances ratio was 8.55 with a 95% self-confidence period of 1.66– 43.35. A chances ratio is a step of association in between the chances of ending up being ill from taking in a particular food product versus the chances of ending up being ill without having actually taken in the particular food product (Coulombier). A chances ratio of 8.55 symbolizes that the chances of having actually consumed polony in Lm ST6 cases is 8.55 times higher than the chances of having actually consumed polony in non-Lm ST6 cases. Based upon the determined self-confidence period, this outcome is statistically substantial since the self-confidence period does not consist of the null worth of 1. 95% of the time, the real chances ratio fell within this period.

Prior to the research study, food history interviews were carried out to produce a hypothesis regarding which food product might have been the source of the break out (Coulombier). The food histories were carried out with using a standardized survey that asked regarding food taken in by a case-patient over the 4 weeks prior to start of signs. Open-ended concerns were positioned to Listeriosis cases to comprehend each case’s food routines, such as where they acquire food, name of dining establishments purchased from, and usage (and name) of casual food suppliers. Closed-ended concerns were presented to figure out each case’s direct exposure to particular food products related to break outs in the past and in your area taken in foods believed to position a high danger for listeriosis such as processed meats (e.g., biltong), cold meats (e.g., ham, polony), soft cheeses, raw milk, and raw veggies. Brand name choices were likewise caught in the type. The mix of open and closed-ended concerns was and continues to be basic practice for the conduct of epidemiologic examinations globally and supplied detectives with high worth information for factor to consider together with other epidemiologic and ecological details.

The food history interviews were finished by November 1, 2017. The epidemiologic techniques used throughout this examination, consisting of the case-control, were robust and mirrored those utilized in top-level examinations throughout the world. The detectives’ multi-disciplinary investigative approaches were totally proper for the break out situations (Besser).

On January 13, 2018, febrile gastroenteritis established in 10 kids from a nursery in Gauteng Province. A number of stool samples were gathered from the kids, and one yielded Lm ST6. Sandwiches prepared and consumed at the nursery were the only typical food direct exposure, and polony was the typical active ingredient. Polony was recuperated from the nursery fridge, and Lm ST6 was recognized in the polony produced at Tiger Brands Enterprise Facility in Polokwane (Thomas et al., 2020).

On February 2, 2018, an ecological examination occurred at the Tiger Brands Enterprise Facility in Polokwane following the discovery at the nursery (Gerner-Smidt). Of 317 ecological samples drawn from the Polokwane center, 47 checked favorable for Listeria monocytogenes, and of the 47 that evaluated favorable, 34 were subtyped as the break out Lm ST6 pressure. In addition, 2 of 13 samples of unopened polony loaves gathered at the center checked favorable for Listeria monocytogenes, and both were subtyped as the break out Lm ST6 pressure.

These realities stand in plain contrast to the examinations at all other South African ready-to-eat meat manufacturers, throughout which examinations no Lm ST6 was recuperated in any food or ecological sample.

The truth that the general public health examination included ecological evaluations and tasting at the production centers of other ready-to-eat meat manufacturers is exceptional. The public health examination of this break out was extraordinary in scope, even worldwide, as it is, in our experience, extraordinary to engage in such robust examination of manufacturers whose items are not epidemiologically associated with a break out. Hence, the only epidemiologic proof develops that Tiger Brands, and Tiger Brands alone, produced item infected by Lm ST6 throughout the break out duration. By including findings from the epidemiologic, ecological, microbiologic, and traceback information, detectives offered definitive proof that the source of the break out was polony produced fromTiger Brands Enterprise Foods Polokwane production center, which there were no other possible causes.

Even more, and as stated formerly, the Minister of Health recognized Tiger Brands’ polony items as the source of the break out on March 4, 2018, and advised Tiger Brands to remember all its ready-to-eat meat items. At the moment that Tiger Brands’ polony items were removed of shop racks and were no longer commonly offered for purchase and usage in South Africa, the break out ended and listeriosis cases in South Africa quickly went back to their pre-outbreak standard. As Figure 3 shows, by mid-April 2018 (6 weeks after recall), less than 5 cases were reported weekly. Relating to those people who ended up being ill in between the date of Tiger Brands’ recall and mid-April 2018, listeriosis cases continued to end up being ill by intake of Tiger Brands’ polony items that were acquired prior to the date of the recall, which was to be anticipated provided the prolonged incubation duration for listeriosis typically (from 3 days to over one month), or from Tiger Brands’ polony items that were just not eliminated from shop racks in time.

Following the findings by the NICD, Tiger Brands performed its own internal examination into the break out. Throughout this internal examination, based upon info state in the discovery performed to-date and Tiger Brands’ numerous public declarations, Tiger Brands validated the existence of the Lm ST6 break out stress in both its items and numerous places in the production environment at the Enterprise center. Tiger Brands provided numerous public declarations to this result.

In a SENS declaration dated 19 March 2018, Tiger Brands released the following public declaration:

“On 15 March 2018, Tiger Brands got verification from independent lab tests proving the DoH’s findings of the existence of LST6 in the environment at its Polokwane Enterprise Foods producing Facility. In addition, there was a favorable detection of LST6 on the external case of 2 samples.”

On 26 March 2018, Tiger Brands released a public declaration on its site restating the independent lab results revealed in the SENS declaration of 19 March 2018 as abovementioned which verified the existence Lm ST6 in the Tiger Brands Polokwane Facility. In the 26 March press declaration, Tiger Brands CEO, Mr Lawrence Mac Dougall discussed this discovery and, inter alia, mentioned as follows:

“We are investing all our energy and time into not just comprehending the reason for the LST6 detection, however likewise how it might have entered our center.”

In a declaration to investors dated 23 May 2018, Mr Mac Dougall specified that:

“The detection of the existence of Listeria ST6 in our factory in Polokwane was frustrating to us provided our compliance with finest practices and dominating requirements.”

In a SENS declaration dated 25 April 2018, Tiger Brands reported that it had actually gotten independent lab test results following its own internal examination which verified the existence of the Lm ST6 in samples of ready-to-eat meat items made at the Polokwane Facility:

“The function of this statement is to upgrade investors on the outcomes of the independent lab re-testing which was performed in regard of the existence of LST6 in the above samples which were produced at the Enterprise Polokwane processing center. On 24 April 2018, Tiger Brands got verification of the existence of LST6 in these samples.”

From both the NICD’s and Tiger Brands’ examinations into the break out, there is no proof that the break out had any source aside from Tiger Brands’ polony items. There is no epidemiologic assistance for that proposal, and there is no ecological assistance for that proposal due to the fact that NICD discovered no other favorable Lm ST6 samples at any other center that produces ready-to-eat meat. Tiger Brands has, in indisputable terms, confessed to this obligation. In the demand Further Trial Particular, Tiger Brands verified its duty for Lm ST6 cases:

“Tiger Brands declaration of 24 April 2018 was appropriate. Tiger Brands found out that lab tests had actually discovered ST6 in ready-to-eat meat items from its Enterprise Foods making center in Polokwane. It accepts that the lab findings were proper.”

“Tiger Brands does not understand to what items the contamination extended or over what duration it took place. It accepts, nevertheless, that ST6 polluted items from its Polokwane center most likely contaminated a few of individuals who experienced listeriosis throughout the break out.”

“The offenders accept the test results that L. monocytogenes was spotted in the polony water coolers at the Polokwane center.”

Even more, and following the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgment in the third-party subpoena’s lawsuits, Tiger Brands released the following declaration to journalism:

“On Friday, 4 February 2022, the Supreme Court of Appeal reversed the earlier order of the Gauteng Division of the High Court, Johannesburg which needed numerous 3rd parties to turn over epidemiological details connecting to the listeriosis break out.”

“The 2018 listeriosis break out impacted lots of South Africans. We are distressed by the effect it has actually had on the lives of the victims and those who have actually lost enjoyed ones from the break out. Tiger Brands restates its dedication to guarantee that a resolution of the matter is reached in the fastest possible time, in the interest of all celebrations, especially the victims of listeriosis.”

That Tiger Brands is responsible for the manufacture and sale of polluted polony items that hurt individuals is beyond doubt; the clinical findings from the multi-disciplinary examination permit just this conclusion, and the practical life of the break out ended when Tiger Brands was bought to withdraw its items from the marketplace. The epidemiologic ramifications of NICD’s sequencing effort are definitive, which is the initial point made by SAAFOsT, in which company Tiger Brands is a custodian member, in its December 2017 declaration that:

“This is unquestionably among the worst listeriosis cases in worldwide history. A big portion (74%) of all the scientific isolates come from the very same series type i.e. ST6– this implies that these isolates stem from a single source, more than likely a food on the marketplace.”

What SAAFOsT did not have the advantage of then understanding, nevertheless, was that tasting at Tiger Brands’ Polokwane center would confirm in every regard the epidemiologic ramifications from NICD’s sequencing efforts on human isolates.

We are now beyond 4 years from the date that the NICD revealed the association in between Tiger Brands’ polony items and the break out, and the work done by all celebrations has actually just produced more proof that the NICD’s and Tiger Brands’ conclusions are precise. There is no proof to the contrary.


[1] Keep in mind: 23 October 2016 to 3 September 2018 is the “Outbreak Period” in the Certification Order.

[2] The earliest South African CT4148 isolates date from September 2015 and belong to a cluster of 3 cases of listeriosis in Western Cape Province28; this finding recommends a possible epidemiologic link to the 2017– 2018 break out. Thomas, et al., 2020


Besser, J. (2020 ). Specialist Opinion Regarding a Listeria Outbreak in South Africa Involving Tiger Brands Limited.

Coulombier, D. (2020 ). Professional Opinion Regarding a Listeria Outbreak in South Africa Involving Tiger Brands Limited.

Gerner-Smidt, P. (2020 ). Professional Opinion on Subtyping Aspects of the Listeria Outbreak in South Africa Involving Tiger Brands Limited.

Smith, A. M., et al. (2019 ). Break out of Listeria monocytogenes in South Africa, 2017-2018: Laboratory Activities and Experiences Associated with Whole-Genome Sequencing Analysis of Isolates. Foodborne Pathog. Dis. 16( 7 ): 524-530. doi:10.1089/ fpd.2018.2586

Thomas, J., et al. (2020 ). Break out of Listeriosis in South Africa Associated with Processed Meat. N. Engl. J. Med. 382: 632-643. doi:10.1056/ NEJMoa1907462

Tiger Brands SENS declaration dated 19 March 2018, “Financial Impact of Product Recall and Suspension of Operations at the Polokwane, Germiston, Pretoria and Clayville Processing centers of Value-Added Meat Products (“VAMP”); Institution of Class Action; and Results of Independent Tests performed in regard of the existence of Listeria monocytogenes ST6 type (“LST6″)”

Tiger Brands Public Statement dated 26 March 2018, “Tiger Brands Listeria Update”

Tiger Brands SENS Statement dated 23 May 2018, “Unaudited group outcomes and dividend statement for the 6 months ended 31 March 2018.

Tiger Brands SENS Statement dated 25 April 2018, ‘Results of Independent Tests performed in regard of the existence of Lister monocytogenes ST6 type (“LST6”)’

Tiger Brands action to Plaintiff’s Further Particulars

Rose, “Tiger Brands Tall Tale”. Financial Mail, 10 February 2022.

Shuping, L., et al. (2015 ). Examining a cluster of Listeria monocytogenes cases in the Western Cape province of South Africa, September 2015.

NICD. (2016 ). Examination of Listeria monocytogenes cases at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, December 2016.

NICD, Listeriosis Outbreak Situation Report. Dated 11 June 2018.

SAAFOST, “Listeriosis Outbreak in South Africa– Latest! By Dr Lucia Anelich, SAAFoST President”. Dated 20 December 2017.

Source: Publisher’s Platform: It has actually almost been 6 years because over 1,000 individuals were sickened and over 200 passed away from Listeria-tainted Polony in South Africa

Publisher’s Platform: It has nearly been six years since over 1,000 people were sickened and over 200 died from Listeria-tainted Polony in South Africa - Click To Share

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