‘Polony disease’ closing township businesses

Since we’ve now all been informed that the primary source of this disease is one of the major staple foods for the poor in our townships, this has placed the future of many small sellers in jeopardy. Many face closure as their customers have suddenly diminished to a trickle.

Polony and other processed meat products, which have been linked to this killer disease, are primary ingredients in the making of what is known in the township food business as ‘kota’. The menu consists of a half a loaf of break stuffed with polony, fried or boiled eggs, achaar and anything the maker may think desirable for the palates of his or her clients.

Now, with the health minister having identified polony as a primary source of listeriosis, scores of informal food traders have been losing customers as people avoid buying kota. The boycott also seems to have been extended, with other delicacies such as boiled sheep’s head (known as a ‘smiley’), sheep, goat or pig trotters and tripe now being shunned by clients who fear catching the disease.

The health minister has identified processed meat products from two companies, Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken, as sources of the disease. One of the identified food plants is said to be based in Germiston.

Since the minister’s announcement, retail stores have pulled tons of processed meat from their shelves. Although one may appreciate the gesture, the question remains as to how these tons of suspect meat will be disposed of.

Will they be hauled in trucks to land-fills on the outskirts of our townships and informal settlements where unemployed and poor residents live and scavenge for food? What if these contaminated meats fall into their hands?

It looks like one crisis is about to create another crisis, this time with the potential for even bigger health risks. What is really sad about this is that listeriosis, or whatever the disease is called, will, like most diseases spread through human activity, see mainly children, the poor and the elderly paying with their lives.

Zaid Khumalo

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