From the news desk

Consumer Commission wants proper disposal plan on tainted processed meat

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By Wardah Wilkinson

The National Consumer Commission says it wants a proper disposal plan from Tiger Brands and RCL Foods, the parent companies of Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken. The companies have come under fire, after it was found that the deadly strain of listeriosis, which has killed 180 people, had originated from procecced meat products manufactured at three of its plants. All procecced meat products from these companies have been recalled nationwide and the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaedi has cautioned South Africans against consuming processed meat from these brands.

“There has to be a disposal plan and we are not going to accept anything other than incineration. So all of these products need to be brought back. There need to be two plans here, a disposal and recall plan,” said the commission’s Trevor Hattingh

According to the Consumer Protection Act, every consumer has the right to good quality and safe products. In this case, every consumer has the right to return the product as their safety has been compromised. Hattingh said consumers should not dispose the products at home but return it to where it was purchased.

“People should not drop the product in the bin, or hand it to someone who is homeless and hungry outside because they are spreading the bacteria further. They need to isolate it and return the products to the retailer for a refund. There is no requirements as to it being in the original packaging or for the till slip. It can be returned as is,” explained Hattingh.

He stressed that it is vital that the public separates products manufactured by Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited, from other products and it should be returned to the store as for a refund.
At a press conference on Monday, Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall refused to apologise or take any blame for the deaths caused by listeria-tainted Enterprise products, claiming there is “no link” between the two.

But Hattingh said any consumer who is found to have symptoms of listeriosis, after consuming these products, can take legal action.

“If the consumer has medical proof that can be linked to the products produced by the two manufacturers showing contamination, such a consumer will then need to approach a court, which will be able to determine who is liable in terms of the damages,” he noted.

Last Sunday the manufacturers of Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited was informed that their products was contaminated, and therefore a meeting was held at the officers of the national consumer commission to brief them on the situation.

“It’s the first time that the Consumer Commission is involved in this and a first in South African history that products of this scale have been recalled. Theses manufacturers were involved in the recall process, which they had to convey and follow through at their offices,” Hattingh said.

“Very little time was given for the manufacturers to inform their retailers and distributors, but what they did tell us [told] us is that they have contacted their suppliers, and most of the retailers will remove everything from these suppliers and anything that was adjacent to any of those products, as there is a risk of cross contamination and they will be refunding these retailers,” he said.

Retailers have been briefed as the ordinal of products being contaminated happened in such a speed. The commission does not expect any issues for consumers receiving refunds at this point. The company will in detailed explain how they will refund and recall the mentioned products, via advertisements and other forms to educate everyone involved. This includes major retailers and smaller shops, he stressed.

“Government will also be assisting in getting the information across, with notices which will also be put in stores, explaining the products not being available and the refunding process. Formal communication will be done soon,” Hattingh explained.

He believes there are still members of the public who are not aware of the Listeriosis disease. For this reason they are meeting with all role players to ensure sufficient precautions are taken to prevent the spread of the disease and to inform consumers. Health inspectors will be on the ground to inform and educate on grounds.

“We appeal to all consumers to handle these products with caution, to isolate these products from any other products in their homes and to not discard of it or give it to anyone on the streets but to return it to the nearest retailer. No refund requirements will be requested.” VOC

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