The investigation of South Africa’s dreadful listeriosis outbreak − the world’s largest − has been carefully documented in an article published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
The outbreak of listeriosis which occurred in 2017/2018 resulted in 937 cases of listeriosis, half of which were associated with pregnancy and resulted in many neonatal deaths. Listeriosis is the deadliest foodborne illness, with mortality rates around 20%-30% of victims.
The paper authored by 31 scientists, health professionals, and academics, revealed the role whole genome sequencing played in identifying that the source of the outbreak was polony (processed meat product) manufactured in a production facility in Limpopo province.
PMA A-NZ’s Head of Food Safety, Deon Mahoney, led the environmental investigation which found the outbreak organism, at the production facility and led to a far-reaching recall of product (including 15 African nations).
The investigation highlighted the poor repair of the facility, and identified many opportunities for cross-contamination of food products, including condensation, prolonged reuse of brine for chilling, and unrestricted movement of workers in the plant.
The article is located at here