S.Africa listeria victims launch class action suit
Victims of the world's worst listeriosis outbreak on Thursday took the first step in a class action suit against the company blamed for contaminated meat that killed 180 people in South Africa.
Group lawyer Richard Spoor, who represents 70 affected families, said an application had been filed in a Johannesburg court seeking permission to sue the company in a class action.
Officials reported that Tiger Brands and its subsidiary Enterprise Food were the origin of the listeria epidemic.
“The application to get approval for a class action was filed today,” Spoor told AFP.
The complaint was filed by 10 representatives who included relatives of the dead and survivors.
Among them are a mother who lost a child and gave birth to a premature baby, an elderly woman infected at an old people’s home and children from a creche in Soweto.
“They are asking for permission to bring one case against Tiger Brands on behalf of all 1,000 people infected,” Spoor said.
“We are seeking to prove that Tiger Brands produced contaminated meat products, which they distributed across the country and sold to consumers over a sustained period of over a year.”
If the litigation is successful, tens of millions of dollars could be awarded to the victims and the families of those who died.
Since January 2017, at least 948 people in South Africa have contracted listeriosis, a disease caused by bacteria which can contaminate fresh food, notably meat.
Several countries across Africa imposed restrictions on South African meat imports in response to the crisis.
Health officials say the source of the outbreak was an Enterprise Food plant, 300 kilometres (185 miles) northeast of the South African capital Pretoria.
The factory produced a popular range of ready-to-eat chilled meats including baloney and frankfurter sausages.