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MBABANE – While the focus is currently on polony and other processed meats, the listeria bacteria can contaminate food anywhere, during the production process, from harvesting to serving.
The bacteria is found in soil, water and vegetation as well.

This was confirmed by the Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Vusi Magagula yesterday.
Magagula was responding to latest reports of four people who allegedly died last Friday while 12 had fallen ill from the listeria outbreak in Australia after having eaten contaminated rock melons.
According to Reuters news, the outbreak in Australia was linked to the melons, also called cantaloupes, from a grower in the eastern state of New South Wales.

According to Magagaula, it was true that the bacteria could be found in other items such as fruits and said the difference at the moment was that it had been found on processed meat products in neighbouring South Africa.
“Listeria stays anywhere, including vegetation, meat and even in water so people can be affected, so long as all those things are contaminated. However, there is no need to panic for Swazis because there have been no cases reported. We can just warn people that if they feel that they have symptoms similar to the ones that we have informed them about to just visit the nearest hospital,” he said.

The disease causes flu-like symptoms and can lead to nausea, diarrhoea, infection of the bloodstream and brain.
Those prone to the disease are people with weak immune systems such as the elderly, newborns and pregnant women.
Magagula further confirmed that foods that could pose a risk of listeriosis include pre-cut melons, cold salads, raw seafood and smoked salmon, unpasteurised milk products, sprouted seeds and raw mushrooms.

After the outbreak was announced in South Africa on Sunday, Swazis went into panic mode due to the fact that the country imports most of its products, including polony, sausages, viennas and frankfurters from the neighbouring country.
With government having issued the instruction to dispose of all processed meat products, there has been a concern if those who had already eaten the processed meat were safe.
On another note, there is some confusion on whether people should have receipts as proof of payment in the event they wanted a refund.

This is because in neighbouring South Africa, some multinational supermarkets demand the receipts while others do not.

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: Feeding prisoners
Are you also of the view that prisoners should not be fed meat and bread?