Colcom assures consumers following listeriosis outbreak

HARARE - Following the recent outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa, Colcom Foods has assured its customers and consumers that it will continue to produce “safe, quality foods.”

The outbreak of listeria in South Africa has caused panic, as it has resulted in the loss of lives.

Reports indicated yesterday that South Africa’s human rights lawyer, Richard Spoor, wanted Tiger Brands to be held accountable for failing to protect its consumers against products contaminated with the bacteria.

Richard Spoor Incorporated Attorneys and the United States Food Safety firm Marler Clark have teamed up to provide justice for the families of over 180 people who died after eating processed meat contaminated with listeria.

South Africa’s Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced last week that the source of the outbreak had been linked to the Enterprise factories in Limpopo and Germiston, as well as a Rainbow Chicken production facility in Sasolburg.

Yesterday, Zimbabwe’s largest producer of ready-to-eat products, Colcom, said it does not import processed meat products from South Africa.

Colcom said we are prioritising the health and safety of our consumers above all else, adding its food safety management systems are based on the international Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system — managed by a dedicated Quality Assurance and Quality Control team — which ensures that, amongst other factors;

All cooking temperatures are monitored to ensure that products are cooked to required core temperatures;

Hygiene and sanitation programmes targeted to control biological and chemical hazards in our processing environment are strictly adhered to;

Staff are trained continuously on hygiene and sanitation as well as good manufacturing processes;

The effectiveness of our production and hygiene processes are tested through regular laboratory analysis of our facilities, raw materials and finished products.

In a statement, Colcom said it recently upgraded the capabilities of its laboratory to allow it to test an increased range of microbiological factors.

It has also increased the frequency and intensity of its deep cleaning production facility and equipment.

Listeria is a bacteria that occurs naturally in the environment and may be found in soil, dairy, fruit and vegetables and ready to eat products, including cold meats.

The strain, known as listeria monocytogenes is the specific bacteria that has caused the outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa.

Colcom’s origins date as far back as the late 1943, when the National Pig Breeders Co-operative was established to assist with the marketing of their pigs.

The then Cold Storage Commission (CSC) acted as their agents until 1957 when it was agreed the CSC’s pig processing facilities should be leased to a new commercial subsidiary of the National Pig Breeders’ Co-op, named Colcom Products Central Co-op Limited.

In 1961, Colcom’s own processing factory was built on the present site in Harare and officially opened in January 1962.

Subsequent years — Colcom continued to invest in additional facilities and improvements to the Harare factory, including a new canning factory, by-products factory and freezer block; it also constructed and opened a new modern $750 000 factory in Bulawayo, and established smaller facilities and depots in Masvingo, Gweru and Mutare.

In 1993, it decided to change from a co-operative to a publicly quoted company.

Colcom Holdings was successfully floated on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

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