Food manufacturer faces class action over listeriosis


Herbert Moyo

Lawyers representing about 100 South Africans will shortly file a multi-million rand class action against food conglomerate, Tiger Brands, over its products afflicted by the bacteria behind the deadly listeriosis which has so far killed 180 people and infected many more.

The class action will be filed by Richard Spoor Inc. Attorneys, a South African law firm which is well-known for its class actions in support of human rights victims including Basotho and other ex-miners affected by silicosis and tuberculosis over the course of their employment in South African mines.

Georgina Jephson and Thamsanqa Malusi, lawyers at Richard Spoor Inc. Attorneys, told the Lesotho Times that they had been approached by some victims of the listeriosis outbreak and a class lawsuit would be filed by Monday.

He said they had decided on legal action after Tiger Brands ignored their email requesting assistance for one of their clients whose child was admitted into the intensive care unit (ICU) of a South African hospital after contracting the deadly disease.

“Our intention was to file the application for the class action early this week but due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to. We are meeting tomorrow morning (today) to finalise the application and we should file either on a Friday or Monday (in all likelihood we will only file on Monday).

“We approached Tiger Brands early last week to assist one of our clients’ whose child is very sick and in ICU from contracting listeria (this was our first and only contact with Tiger Brands). They did not reply to our email.

“We have 10 people acting as what we call “class representatives” but have close to a 100 people in our database,” Mr Malusi said in an interview with the Lesotho Times.

The impending class action will be the first such case on listeriosis after the deadly disease broke out in South Africa in January 2017. Lesotho is yet to record a listeriosis case but the government is enforcing stringent regulations on the importation and sale of meat products with many having already been recalled from shop shelves.

The lawsuit comes after Tiger Brands was forced to close a third factory in Pretoria this week after “very low levels of Listeria” were found in products.

The packaged foods company said on Monday that, “Although the level detected was well within the range of government standards for the presence of Listeria, Tiger Brands has taken the precautionary measure of closing the factory”.

The company also instituted a country-wide recall of its Snax products.

The closure of the Pretoria factory follows the recent closure of Tiger Brands’ Germiston and Polokwane factories.

A spokesperson of the company, Nevashnee Naicker said, “As a precautionary measure, we are voluntarily recalling all snack-branded chilled processed meat products. Consumers are asked to return these products from where they purchased them and get their full refund”.

On Tuesday, South Africa’s Businessinsider publication issued the following list of products that had been recalled from various retail outlets in that country:

Pick and Pay products:

PNP Fresh Black pepper Chicken Roll, PNP Fresh Garden Herb Chicken Roll, PNP Fresh Plain Chicken Roll, PNP Fresh Sweet Chilli Roll, PNP Fresh Cheese Chicken Roll and No Name IQF Pork Banger (375 and 750 grammes).

Rainbow products:

Fresh Polony (1kg), Simply Chicken Chakalaka Polony (1kg), Simply Cheese Polony (700g), Simply Chicken Original (1kg), Simply Chicken Peri Peri Polony (1kg), Rainbow Simply Chicken Original (750g), Rainbow Simply Chicken Polony (400g), Rainbow IQF Chilli Russians (1kg), Rainbow IQF cheese Russians (850g), Rainbow IQF original Russian (1kg), Farmer Brown cabinet Loaves, Farmer Brown Roast Chicken Loaf (500g), Farmer Brown  Capsicum pepper loaf (500g), Farmer Brown Garlic & herb loaf (500g), Framer Brown Deli loaves, Farmer Brown Capscum Pepper Loaf, Farmer Brown B Roast Chicken Loaf, Farmer Brown B Garlic & Herb Chicken Loaf, Rainbow Simply Chicken Mini Cheese Viennas, Rainbow Simply Chicken Mini Viennas (240g), Rainbow Simply Chicken Viennas (assorted 1kg), Rainbow Simply Chicken Viennas (assorted 1kg), Rainbow Simply Chicken Viennas 500g, Rainbow Simply Chicken Viennas (500g).

Enterprise products: 
All ready-to eat-processed meat products under the following Bokkie, Renown, Enterprise Lifestyle Range and Mieliekip brands.

Woolworths products:

Wafer thin Chargrilled Ham 125g, Waferthin Roasted Chicken 125g, Waferthin Smoked Ham 125g, Waferthin Cooked Ham 125g, Waferthin Smoked Chicken 125g, 500g Smoked Viennas, 1kg Smoked Viennas, 500g Red Viennas (1kg), Red Viennas (375g), Cocktail Viennas (125g), Smoked Cheesy Viennas (400g), Bulk Salami Sticks (150g), Salami Sticks (85g), Plain Salami Sticks (85g), Spicy Salami Sticks (60g), Plain Salami Bites (150g), Spicy Salami Sticks (85g), Coriander Salami (60g), Spicy Salami Bites (250g), Smoked and Roasted Gammon, Sliced Lean Ham (125g), Sliced Cooked Ham (250g), Sliced Cooked Ham (125g), Ham Selection, Assorted Cold Meat (200g), Sliced Salami (100g), Salami (100g), German Salami, Sliced Peppered Salami (100g), Spicy Salami (100g) and Country Ham (125g).

 Shoprite products:

Farmer’s Deli red viennas (500g and 1kg) and Farmer’s Deli smoked viennas (500g and 1kg).

Snax products:

All ready-to eat-processed meat products.

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