Factory cleared to reopen after listeriosis crisis
Tiger Brands was given the green light by health authorities on Thursday to reopen its polony-producing Polokwane plant, named as the source of the world’s most deadly listeriosis outbreak in March.
The announcement comes just three days after the Johannesburg High Court granted an order certifying a class action against Tiger Brands, which will determine whether the company is liable for the outbreak.
The legal case relies on the fact that the outbreak strain of listeria monocytogenes, which infected 91% of the people who died‚ was found at the Enterprise factory in Polokwane.
Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall stressed in his announcement on Thursday that “no liability has been established against the company for the listeriosis outbreak”.
“The legal process of the class action must still take its course,” he said.
The company is to co-fund a communication campaign to notify the victims and families of the more than 200 who died, of the class action.
Of the 1,065 confirmed cases, only 150 are currently represented by the two firms of attorneys representing the victims – Richard Spoor Attorney and LHL Attorneys.
Tiger Brands said its legal representatives had worked closely with the attorneys for the class action to help expedite the certification process.
Richard Spoor confirmed on Thursday that Tiger Brands had paid R1m towards the media campaign – “and we will contribute the same amount”.
“We would have had to mount a far more extensive, expensive campaign were it not for health minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s willingness to send notices about the class action to its database of doctors, [labs] and many of the victims.”
Spoor said the firms’ contribution to the media campaign, and many of their other considerable expenses related to the listeriosis class action, were being met by the US-based firm of attorneys, Marler Clark, which specialises in foodborne disease outbreak litigation worldwide.
Meanwhile, for the first time since March, the Polokwane plant is to begin producing polony, viennas and other ready-to-eat processed meats.