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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 16 August 2018

UAE bans South African meat from two firms following listeria outbreak

Spate of food poisoning has killed 180 in the country

180 South Africans have died from listeria poisoning - according to the the United Nations, this is the largest outbreak of Listeriosis ever after 948 cases of poisoning have been reported since January 2017.  EPA
180 South Africans have died from listeria poisoning - according to the the United Nations, this is the largest outbreak of Listeriosis ever after 948 cases of poisoning have been reported since January 2017. EPA

The UAE has banned the import of meat from two South African meat manufacturers in response to an announcement by South African authorities tracing the deadly listeria food poisoning outbreak to contaminated meat products.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has ordered the immediate suspension of imports and from Tiger’s Enterprise Food and RCL Foods, whose food samples tested positive for the strain of listeria that has killed 180 people so far.

“As part of the precautionary measures, the Ministry has issued a circular informing Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and municipal authorities in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah of the immediate suspension of food imports from these two manufactures, denying entry of their inbound shipments, and pulling the incriminated goods from local shelves,” said Majd Mohamed Al Herbawi, Director of the Food Safety Department at MOCCAE.

“The Ministry also directed relevant local authorities to step up screening of South African meat and its products and ensure that only safe-to-consume meat is available in the UAE market."

The Ministry is closely following-up on the investigations being carried out by authorities in South Africa.

Retailers were receptive to the move and assured consumers of their strict food sourcing policy.

“We welcome the move by the authorities to ban such imports and reiterate our ‘no nasties’ stance,” said Matt Frost, CEO at Spinneys.

“Here at Spinneys, we are fully transparent about where the food on our shelves come from, and as such have a series of policies to give our customers total confidence in the quality of the food they are feeding their families,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Ministry has also issued a decision to ban, withdraw and remove Australian rock melons from UAE markets due to a listeria contamination that resulted in three casualties.

The withdraw was issued in line with the Ministerial Decree No. 433 of 2017 on Rapid Alert System for Food.

"The decision comes in the wake of what has been recently circulated in international newspapers regarding the listeria contaminated Australian rock melons, which resulted in three casualties so far. The Ministry has been closely following the updates of the outbreak,” said Ms Al Herbawi.

In January, the Ministry has also issued orders to ban the import of chicken and eggs from the Netherlands following an alert from the World Organisation for Animal Health on a highly contagious H5N8 bird flu strain.

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