Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

The Department of Trade and Industry says preliminary research shows the pork industry has been the hardest hit following an outbreak of listeriosis.

"The demand for processed meat has dropped by 75% and the demand for pork cold cuts by 50%, with an estimated decline in profits of 40%," the department said in an e-mailed statement that contained responses to questions in Parliament.

"According to data from the Pork Producers’ Organisation, two plants and one abattoir have closed down."

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in March that the outbreak of listeriosis had killed at least 208 people since the start of 2017 and infected 1,038.

It was traced to ready-to-eat processed meat products. Tiger Brands, the country’s biggest food producer, closed factories for cleaning, and has recalled and incinerated more than 4,000 tonnes of products. It said in May the plants would probably stay shut for most of the rest of the year.