South African grocers urged to test food for Listeria. Not sure that would do much for public health

According to MSN, as a result of the massive, unsourced, outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa, folks have been asking retailers to test their food before selling it.

Following the announcement of an outbreak of listeria in South Africa, there are now calls for supermarkets to test their food for the bacteria before it’s sold to customers.

AfriForum’s Marcus Pawson says restaurants should also take the necessary precautions.

“These big chain stores must do this themselves while we wait for government to come up with a plan to ensure that South Africans are safe.”

Maybe there’s something lost in the scientific translation, but as lots of folks have mentioned in the past, you can’t test your way to safe food. Good epidemiology and a matching active food surveillance program is what’s really needed. Test and hold, not sure what that will really accomplish, public health-wise.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.