Homeless in east fear listeriosis, but still eat ‘contaminated’ food

Street beggars in the east of Pretoria are worried motorists and members of the public might be giving them deadly listerioses-contaminated food to eat.

“We get food from motorists or sometimes the bin and we don’t always know what products are contained in what we eat,” said one such homeless person, Sibusiso Mbonani.

Mbonani is one of the homeless people begging at the corner of Solomon Mahlangu and Delmas roads. He has been begging at the intersection for more than five years now and struggled to make ends meet with what little money he made.

ALSO READ: LISTERIOSIS: What about fast food?

Mbonani said he was worried about contracting listerioses and had thrown some food away after he learned of the disease.

“Beggars are (however) not choosers,” he said.

“We have no choice but to take what we are given. Throwing away food will just make things worse for us.”

Thabiso Shbangu (28) said he was also nervous as he had already consumed some of the products.

Other homeless people at the intersection also told Rekord they were being handed sandwiches containing cold meats.

All of them, however, continued to eat the food they were given or found.

This, despite the call by the department of health for all cold meat products to be avoided following the recent deadly listerioses outbreak. The outbreak has claimed more than 180 lives thus far.

The source of the listeriosis disease was traced to an Enterprise factory in Polokwane.

Brooklyn beggar Thabo Mello (28) said he would continue to eat these products as he had no choice and depended on what he got from motorists.

ALSO READ: Listeriosis-contaminated food products to be safely disposed of

Mello said he had been receiving food parcels with polony, sausages and viennas from motorists and was reluctant to throw them away.

“If I throw them away – what will I eat?”

“I found some Enterprise viennas thrown away in the dustbin and I took them,” he told Rekord.

The public has been warned against simply throwing away possibly contaminated Enterprise cold meat products in the garbage as homeless people might find and eat it.

Even though the strain of listeriosis was traced to the polony manufactured by Enterprise at the factory in question, the department said other items such as the sausages produced by the company could also be contaminated.

“The best way for residents to dispose of these items was to return them to their nearest stores,” said a department of health spokesperson.

Do you have more information about the story? Please send us an email to [email protected] or phone us on 083 625 4114.

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Noxolo Sibiya

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