SOUTH AFRICA – RCL Foods has said that tests conducted by an independent laboratory in France showed the Wolwehoek polony plant was free of ST6 strain claimed to be the source of Listeriosis scare in the country.

According to the company, the laboratory, considered to be a leading expert in the field tested the facility against world class standards clearing it of listeria strain that has claimed 180 lives.

“Tests conducted by an independent laboratory in France, which is considered to be a leading expert in this field, have shown that the plant is clear of the ST6 listeria strain,” the firm said in a statement.

“RCL Foods will continue to support national efforts that take the message about food safety and listeria to as wide an audience as possible,” the company said.

The minister of health linked what was considered to be the world’s worst listeria case to Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane plant, a meat processing facility owned by RCL’s rival Tiger Brands.

This led to a recall of meat products from Enterprise Foods in major supermarkets in SA and in the long run weighing heavily on the parent company’s shares which fell more than 5%.

Countries such as Kenya and those neighbouring SA e.g. Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana imposed a ban on importation and sale of cold processed meat from South Africa amid the Listeriosis outbreak.

The company had earlier claimed Rainbow polony products from the Wolwehoek plant were recalled as a precautionary measure.

“More than a decade ago we embarked on a process to implement internationally recognised and independently verified quality and food safety systems such as FSSC, Food Safety System Certification 22000 and ISO 22000 in our facilities,” RCL Foods said.