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Listeriosis: No guarantee job losses can be avoided, says govt

May 11 2018 14:44
Lameez Omarjee

Cape Town – Government can’t guarantee that the listeriosis outbreak won’t lead to job losses.

This is according to a written response by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana to a question posed by Democratic Alliance MP Thembekile Majola about the economic impact of the listeriosis outbreak.

“The department has not taken direct steps to limit potential job losses as a result of the listeriosis outbreak,” said Zokwana.

However, his department is working with the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry to address the outbreak.

“The outbreak and subsequent spreading of listeriosis contamination will likely not lead to short-term job losses. However, if they end up having to close the factory altogether, that will have an impact on jobs,” said Zokwana.

The economic impact of the disease has not yet been documented, he added. “However, the cost of eradicating the listeriosis would (likely) be substantial.” This would be the case if the source of the outbreak is water, an abattoir or a food processing plant.

FNB's head of agriculture information and marketing Dawie Maree echoed some of these views.

“If an abattoir has to be closed, it will impact employment,” he previously told Fin24.

According to Zokwana, the quarterly economic overview to be released in June is expected to reflect the economic impact of the disease.

Listeriosis could likely have an impact on domestic sales and export sales. “The bigger impact is that all the Sadc (Southern African Development Community) countries (Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana) who buy processed meat from South Africa have banned South African exports, affecting the economic performance negatively.

“The impact on Tiger Brands and Rainbow Foods will be highly negative (as their share price has apparently gone down), including employment, level and pattern of consumption, production and so on,” he pointed out.

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