JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Tests at an RCL Foods processed-food factory found no traces of a strain of listeria that has killed almost 200 people, but they did find evidence of other strains that could also cause the disease, the South African Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.
Listeria broke out in South Africa in January last year and has since infected almost 1,000 people, 180 of whom have died, the world’s worst recorded listeria outbreak . Most of them had contracted the ST6 strain of the disease.
“Whole genome sequencing has confirmed that the strains found in the production facility are not the ST6 outbreak strain,” the ministry said in a statement.
However, the tests had found Listeria monocytogenes, which caused some cases in the current outbreak, at the RCL Foods plant in Wolwehoek, it said.
Authorities have linked the disease to eating a kind of processed meat sold by RCL Foods and Tiger Brands. They have identified the source of the outbreak as a factory owned by Tiger Brands, South Africa’s biggest processed-food maker.
The National Consumer Commission has ordered Enterprise Foods, which is owned by Tiger Brands, and RCL Foods to recall the products linked to the disease . That order is still in effect.
On Monday, RCL said it estimated its profits would fall about 20 million rand ($1.70 million) per month as long as the recall is in effect.
Reporting by Patricia Aruo, editing by Larry King