Noodles probe ‘to be finalised soon’ says the National Health Department
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DURBAN - THE Department of Health expects to be done with its investigation into the deaths of five children, allegedly after consuming noodles, in two weeks’ time.
Murdock Ramathuba, a regional director at the Department of Health, said the public could be assured that there was no cause for alarm.
“’We conducted tests on noodle samples taken from both the Eastern Cape, where Sinothando Gwendu, 11, Olwam Gwendu, 7, and 4-month old Athenkosi Gwendu passed away, and in Mpumalanga, where Thato Makofane, 9, and her 13-year-old brother, Keamogetswe, passed away. Our finding was that there were no pathogens (that cause diseases) detected.”
Ramathuba said that the department had expanded its investigation.
“There were no remaining food samples from the deceased children’s homes, so we had to get samples from the same shop and the same batch number, which our tests found had no pathogens. At this stage we plan to expand our investigation to the manufacturers of the food and conduct tests directly from the samples taken from the factory.”
“We are also working with the police, as a case had to be opened with police because the children passed away from unnatural causes.”
The National Consumer Commission said yesterday it was awaiting the final laboratory results.
Phetho Ntaba, the National Consumer Commission’s spokesperson, said: “The investigation (involving the laboratory tests) is crucial to the matter and we believe this investigation is going to help establish the facts. Without laboratory results linking any product to the deaths, we cannot do anything.”
Ntaba said: “Consumers are encouraged to practise good hygiene when handling food, and they are encouraged to use their discretion based on the information available to them.”
The South African Human Rights Commission last week criticised social media posts linking the possible tampering of noodles products with foreign-owned businesses, and said the posts were devoid of truth.
“The commission notes that suggestions that the tragic deaths of five children in different provinces are the result of revenge by foreign nationals are irresponsible and have no basis in fact.”