Promoting the improvement of dairy quality and safety

in the interest of the dairy industry and the consumer

The DSA Blog

COVID-19: Safety and hygiene of dairy products and personnel

While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts everyone’s daily lives, the dairy supply chain is also affected. The dairy sector has been recognized around the world as an essential activity. Dairy farmers and processors are working tirelessly to deliver nutritious food on our tables.

The International Dairy Federation (IDF) wishes to support its members and the dairy sector by providing the following messages:

  • The safety of workers and consumers is a priority throughout the sector.
  • There is no evidence that this strain of coronavirus is present in domestic livestock such as cattle.
  • The virus is spread through aerosol transmission and close human contact, not through food products. COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease, as confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is not expected to be found in milk and dairy products.
  • Food safety agencies have confirmed that heat treatment kills other coronaviruses, so pasteurization is expected to also inactivate SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19.
  • Very strict hygiene measures are already in place throughout the dairy supply chain, including in unpasteurized milk products production, to ensure food safety and the safety of the food handlers. These measures also protect against SARS-CoV-2.
  • The Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 cannot increase in numbers outside the human body (Unlike bacteria or fungi, viruses do not have the capacity to grow without invading their host).
  • Dairy processors are encouraged to enhance safety measures to protect essential staff members who come to work every day.

IDF wishes to warmly thank the farmers, processors, transporters and all those involved on the frontline in the supply of safe dairy products to consumers throughout the world.


Useful links:


WHO: COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses

FAO: Food Safety in the time of COVID-19

Listeriosis outbreak traced to Enterprise facility in Polokwane

Johannesburg - The outbreak of listeriosis has been traced to an Enterprise Foods facility in Polokwane, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Sunday. 

"We can now conclude scientifically that the source of the present outbreak is the Enterprise Food production facility located in Polokwane," he said at the offices of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg.

Listeria has been traced to another Enterprise facility in Germiston on the East Rand, and a Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State, but further tests were needed as the sequence type was not yet known.

The National Consumer Commission has issued safety recall notices to those manufacturers and facilities, and the companies are now responsible for coming up with the recall plan. 

The plan must be sufficient to cover their entire distribution chain, and the facilities will also have to resource and pay for the implementation.

Motsoaledi said several children presented with gastroenteritis in Soweto earlier in the week. Tests were done, and it was found that they had listeriosis. The strain they were affected with, which was the same for the larger outbreak, was traced to Enterprise's Polokwane facility. 

Motsoaledi said statistics on March 2 show that the outbreak has claimed about 180 lives and 948 laboratory-confirmed cases had been reported to the NICD. 

He said while polony was a definite source, other products such as Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats not typically cooked could also be affected due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Pregnant women, neonates, elderly people and anyone with weakened systems should "not go near" these products.

Motsoaledi said retailers must clean their fridges, meat slicers, and either remove the ready-to-eat meat products or place them in plastic bags in separate fridges - ahead of the recall. 

"I’ve already emptied [out] my fridge this morning… I woke up my wife – [and told let’s] just take these things out," he said.  "Any human being in the country who has these products in their fridge must take them out immediately." 

Listeria is a bacterium that is naturally found in the environment - it commonly occurs in soil, water, vegetation and in the faeces of some animals. It can contaminate a wide variety of food types, including meat and meat products, dairy products (unpasteurised and pasteurised), fresh and frozen produce (fruits, vegetables and sprouts) and ready-to-eat products.

By: Tammy Petersen

Situation Report on Listeriosis Outbreak, South Africa, 2018

A total of 945 cases have been reported since 1 January 2017, with 30 additional cases recorded since the last update (20 February 2018).

Outcome at the end of hospitalisation is known for an additional 18 cases, bringing the total with known outcome to 635/945 (67%) patients. 176 (19%) patients are known to have died. 

At present, the source of the outbreak is not known, although progress is being made in each area of the investigations listed below. 

The public are advised that processed, ready-to-eat meat products, soft cheeses, and unpasteurised milk and dairy products should be avoided by persons who are at risk of listeriosis. In addition, processed, ready-to-eat meat products include viennas, polonies, russians, ham, other ‘cold’ meats, sausages, various corned meats, salami, pepperoni and similar products typically found in the processed meat sections of food retailers and butcheries should be avoided, or thoroughly cooked in boiling water or heated at high temperatures of 70°C or higher before eating. 

Read the full report here

Industry Partners

milksa logo