LUSAKA-- The Zambian government has banned imports of foods from South Africa, including processed meats, vegetables and other dairy products, which are considered to be risky in contamination with the bacteria which causes listeriorsis, a disease which has claimed more than 180 lives in South Africa.

Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya announced at a media briefing here Monday that the owners of the South African supermarkets as well as other stores operating in Zambia have been directed to co-operate with Ministry of Health to remove from the shelves the affected products.

The South African government has banned the affected products of two leading food processing companies in the republic following confirmation that some processed meat products are contaminated with Listeria bacterium, which has affected over 900 people in that country.

The South African government has also confirmed that the Enterprise Foods meat processing plant in Limpopo province of South Africa, is the source of the Listeria bacterium.

Meanwhile, the Zambian High Commissioner (ambassador) to South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba, has urged South African retail chain stores operating in Zambia to recall ready-to-eat meat products imported from the country following expert confirmation that the products are a source of the Listeria bacterium.

Mwamba says the withdrawal and recall of all ready to eat meat products from retail stores would help contain the disease. He says the chain stores should emulate measures put in place by the South African government to recall cold and meat products from retail chain stores nationally.

South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced the recall of ready-to-eat meat products from retail chain stores nationally after experts traced the bacteria to a Enterprise Foods production plant located in Polokwane.

In the southern Zambian resort town of Livingstone, the Ministry of Agriculture has impounded and destroyed more than 4.3 tonnes of illegally imported Irish potatoes belonging to a named popular food chain store.

A Zambia Agriculture Research Institute plant health inspector, Martin Siazemo, said the potatoes were imported from South Africa and did not have a laboratory analysis certificate as required by law.