SOUTH AFRICA – Tiger Brands, a packaged-food company based in South Africa, announced that it is set to defend its position in the class action lawsuit against the company following the listeriosis outbreak of 2018.

In a statement issued to Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the consumer goods company said it has received a summons in respect of the lawsuit case, which was ratified by the  Johannesburg high court in December last year.

“The company intends to defend the class action and is preparing to follow due legal process,” it said.

Tiger Brands said no specific amount of damages has been claimed at this point by the plaintiffs, who are seeking damages under the terms of the Consumer Protection Act, claims in delict and claims for constitutional damages, reports Reuters.

The company noted that in its product liability insurance cover, it does not include cover for exemplary or punitive damages, but however the quantum of damages have been projected to be huge if the company is found liable.

“In addition, should an award be made for constitutional damages, the product liability policy will not cover that portion of the award which relates to exemplary or punitive damages which are not compensatory in nature. The company reserves its rights in this regard,” the company said in a statement.

Tiger brands faces the suit after a listeriosis outbreak that claimed more than 200 people in South Africa last year after the disease was traced back to a factory run by Tiger Brands-owned Enterprise Foods.

As per the time of ratification of the class action suit, Tiger Brands faced about 1060 cases with the number expected to increase after its agreement to jointly share the costs of advertising the class action and operating a toll free number.

During its 2018 financial year, the producer of brands Albany, Tastic, Purity, Ko and Jungle Oats among others lost US$99.36 million (R1.4 billion) in revenue due to the outbreak.

As a result of the outbreak, which according to the world health organisation was the largest of its kind, the company invested in South Africa’s first Centre for Food Safety in collaboration with Stellenbosch University.