March 5, 2018 / 11:55 AM / 2 years ago

South Africa's health ministry: took long to find listeria cause as 'industry not cooperating'

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African authorities struggled to confirm the cause of the listeria outbreak that has killed 180 people since January 2017 because companies in the sector were not providing samples as requested, the health ministry spokesman said on Monday.

“The meat processing industry was not cooperating for months. They did not bring the samples as requested. We had long suspected that listeria can be found in these products,” Popo Maja, the chief director of communications told Reuters.

Maja said the breakthrough came after pre-school children fell ill from eating cold meat products known as “polony” that were traced to processed meat producers.

Reporting by James Macharia, editing by Louise Heavens

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