South Africa is on the heels of the worst outbreak of listeria in global history. Listeria infection is a food-borne bacterial illness commonly contracted by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products. The illness can be fatal for people with impaired immune systems and pregnant women; it can result in stillbirths.
In South Africa, the outbreak infected almost 1,000 people and resulted in at at least 180 deaths. The country’s Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, announced on Sunday that the source of the outbreak was polony from an Enterprise Foods factory in Polokwane‚ Limpopo. He cautioned all South Africans to “avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready to eat,” and advised pregnant women to avoid any processed meat “like the plague”.
As South African turns from processed meat, it is worth considering other protein sources. The 5 meat substitutes below are great sources of protein and have the texture and taste to get many meat-lovers buy-in.
1. The Healthy Kota Alternative
Perhaps one of the most worrying things about the listeria outbreak is: What will happen to South Africa’s most iconic cuisine, the kota? The popular township street food which is a quarter loaf (kota) of bread hollowed out and filled again often with slaptjips, polony, and achaar (spicy pickle) – not unlike its Durban Indian counterpart the bunny chow which is filled with curry – will suffer the most with the polony panic. But some are suggesting a healthy kota – filled with salads and a boiled egg instead. Hey, it’s not a kota but it’s got to be better for your cholesterol.
— City of Joburg (@CityofJoburgZA) March 5, 2018
2. Just put chicken in your kota
If the healthy kota sounds like blasphemy to you there are plenty alternatives to filling your kota. There’s curry if you’re into the bunny chow feel. Or you could just put chicken in it, which is a safer meat option (for now). There are restaurants that offer chakalaka/ achaar and chicken breast/ livers as fillings in a kota. Hey, its not vienna or polony but it could hit the spot.
3. Give up on the kota and take it back to your roots
Some argue that the move from rural areas to urban areas have made folk forget their roots and the food they grew up eating. Perhaps now is the time to give up processed city food which is frankly unhealthy and now ridden with listeriosis (a sign?) and eat the food of our foremothers. Mopane worms, tripe, spinach, beans, lentils – the list is endless.
4. Time to get creative with our sandwich fillings
A very important question to ask now that polony is unsafe is what South Africans are going to take for lunch everyday. Bread and polony is the quintessential lunchbox staple for South African children and adults. But there are hundreds of alternatives that are healthy and nutritious but most importantly listeria-free. Some of the alternative sandwich fillings are chicken mayo, cheese and tomato, salad, avocado, and hummus.
Go to kids lunch with no processed meat :
•club sandwich/ cheese and tomato/Egg Mayo /chicken mayo
• Steak wraps
•lamb/chicken /veggie pita bread
• Pasta salads
Thats all I can think of right now #Listeriosis
— cookingwithluyanda (@Luyanda_Maf) March 4, 2018
5. You could just make your life simple and go vegetarian/ vegan
It’s easy. There are a number of “fake meats” – vegan/ vegetarian alternatives to polony – made from soy, tofu, tempeh, and seitan whose taste and texture can fool even the most carnivorous