TO KOTA OR NOT TO KOTA? – Listeriosis Lurking…
Kota, a popular township street food, is like nothing else I have ever eaten. The ultimate local treat, a quarter (“kota”) loaf of bread is hollowed out and filled again. Unlike the Durban bunny chow though, its contents are what distinguishes the kota from its Durban cousin. The soft loaf is crammed with a combination of ingredients from atchar to polony, viennas, Russian sausages, slap chips, cheese and egg.
But now with Listeriosis lurking around and resulting in the death of 183 people since the beginning of the year, almost half being babies and children, most of them in Gauteng, we are being warned to not eat certain quite delicious foods!
If pregnant women eat food contaminated with listeriosis, this can result in miscarriage, premature birth, babies being born with the infection and even stillbirth.
The elderly (especially those above the age of 65) and adults with impaired immune systems (HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver conditions or kidney disease) are also at high risk of contracting listeriosis.
So what is this mysterious bacteria? Listeriosis is basically food poisoning caused by eating foods contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium. It was first found in animals and indirectly transmitted to humans around 1983 when cabbages were contaminated through exposure to infected sheep manure.
Listeria bacteria can be found in water and in the soil therefore anybody can get listeriosis!
Vegetables can become contaminated from the soil or from manure used as fertiliser.
Animals can carry the bacteria and can contaminate red meat and chicken (especially ready-to-eat meats like polony, viennas and Russian sausages) and dairy products (especially soft cheeses like feta, goat’s cheese and Brie).
Unpasteurised milk or foods made from unpasteurised milk can be contaminated.
Raw and smoked fish products.
WHERE HAS ALL THE POLONY GONE?
The Department of Health has announced that ready-to-eat processed meats are the source of the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa and to avoid polony, viennas, russians and other ready-to-eat meat products.
After an intense search lasting several months, the bacteria has been traced to three production plants belonging to Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken. The National Consumer Commission recalled Enterprise polony‚ russians and frankfurters as well as Rainbow Chicken polony.
Most large retailers have removed all affected products off the shelves. Consumers have been asked to please not throw these affected products in the bin, where they could be consumed by other people, but to please return then to the shop where they were bought, with or without a till slip.
A whopping 4‚000 tons of polony and viennas is the initial estimate of how much recalled cold meat will be sent to dump sites where they will be disposed of safely.
In South Africa, it is estimated that 30.4million people live in poverty and thus dependent on processed meats as a source of protein because they are relatively cheap and save time and energy as they do not have to be cooked. Highly processed meats are central to the diets of the urban poor who have as a result been hardest hit by the listeriosis outbreak.
In my next blog, I will be giving you tips on how to avoid getting sick from Listeriosis.
Be Aware; Be Healthy; Be Happy! From Mama Gogga