Following the announcement by the South African government that it has traced and identified the source of the listeriosis, Botswana government moved swiftly to suspend the import of ready-to-eat meat products from South Africa.
It said that the affected products include products from Enterprise and Rainbow. These also include any other products manufactured or packaged for other retailers by Enterprise and Rainbow. The government also embarked on a massive recall of these products as fear for listeriosis continues to hit Botswana.
This decision is commendable. However, the government must ensure that it does more than this to ensure the safety of its people. It is reported that the listeria poisoning has killed 180 people in South Africa.
This is a big number for Botswana population. We do not want any casualties. It is important for government to make sure that no processed meat products from the specified manufacturer enter through the borders of this country. Security checks at all entry points must be enhanced and improved.
With the country’s over reliance on South African products, the risk is high. We cannot afford any hiccups and cost of bearing the burden comes with the outbreak. Officials of the ministries of Health and Wellness and Agricultural Production and Food Security must be on high alert. It is said that listeria is but a
They should also conduct inspections at the local meat processing outlets and factories to ascertain that there has not been any contamination. Local supermarkets, many of which are mostly South African chain stores, should be monitored to ensure that they have followed the mandatory order from the government by pulling out of shelves products from the South African companies - Enterprise and Rainbow. It is a fact that most parents pack these products as lunch meals for their schoolgoing children. This practice happens across the country, even in remote areas.
This calls for proper dissemination of information to ensure that people are educated on this issue. Government should also continue to collaborate with South Africa to monitor the situation and give regular updates.
We still emphasise that some of these ready-to-eat products can be produced locally. The problem is over-reliance on South Africa for everything under the sun. Listeriosis outbreak in our southern neighbour is a wake up call.