Tiger Brands' Polokwane factory, which was given the green light by health authorities for reopening after the listeriosis outbreak, has been identified by leading scientists as the source of the outbreak.

TimesLIVE reports that the company yesterday declined to comment on the matter, saying a 'legal process is currently under way to determine liability for the outbreak'.

Authored by 31 scientists, health professionals and academics, including nine employees of the Centre for Enteric Diseases in the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), and led by Dr Juno Thomas, of the NICD, the article in the New England Journal of Medicine referred to the Polokwane plant as 'the production facility'.

Samples taken from nine children at a Soweto creche who fell ill after eating polony identified a specific strain of listeria monocytogenes ST6, which was subsequently found in polony in the creche's fridge, sealed polony loaves at the Polokwane plant and in environmental samples taken in the plant.

In December 2018, the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) granted an order certifying a class action against Tiger Brands.

The legal case relies on the fact that the outbreak strain of listeria monocytogenes, which infected 91% of the people who died, was found at the Polokwane factory. The class action is being brought by Richard Spoor Attorneys and LHL Attorneys, with US-based firm Marler Clark as a consultant to the attorneys.

Three days after the class action was granted, Tiger Brands announced that its Polokwane plant had been given the green light by health authorities to reopen, stressing: 'No liability has been established against the company for the listeriosis outbreak.'

Full TimesLIVE report