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A letter to the mealie meal companies of South Africa

We only ask companies who care to read this letter – only companies who want to help thousands of poor, sick people in South Africa.

Last year Learn and Teach magazine wrote a story. We said thousands of people in South Africa get a sickness called ‘Pellagra’. Only poor people get pellagra. People who eat mostly mealie meal get pellagra.

And we said the mealie meal companies can help fight this sickness. They can stop people getting pellagra. And they can help people with pellagra. All they need to do is add two vitamins to the mealie meal. (These vitamins are called ‘Riboflavin’ and ‘Nicotin’).

The two vitamins are very cheap. You only need to add a few drops of the vitamins to a lot of mealie meal. And the vitamins don’t even change the taste of the mealie meal.

Last month we heard this other terrible news. The Medical Research Council told parliament that cancer of the gullet (throat) is the cancer black men get most. And they said mealie meal companies can really help fight this cancer – if they just add the two vitamins to the mealie meal.

Doctors have asked the companies to add vitamins for over 10 years. Every single doctor we spoke to wants the mealie meal companies to add vitamins.

But only a few small companies have added vitamins. The two biggest companies, Premier Milling and Tiger Oats, have still not added vitamins. (Premier Milling makes ‘Iwisa’ and ‘Impala’ mealie meal. Tiger Oats makes ‘Ace’ and ‘Induna’ mealie meal),

These two companies make most of the mealie meal in South Africa. So if they add vitamins, thousands of people will not get pellagra and cancer of the gullet. And thousands of people will not die.

Learn and Teach spoke to these two big companies last year. Mr Thomas from Tiger Oats said: “We will do anything the people want. We don’t believe the people want us to add vitamins.”

And Mr Van Selm from Premier Milling said: “We put vitamins into our mealie meal for two weeks last April. But people didn’t like it. People said the colour was not the same.”

We believe the companies are talking nonsense. Tiger Oats say they believe the people don’t want them to add vitamins to mealie meal. How can the company say this when they haven’t even tried!

And Premier Milling says the vitamins change the colour of the mealie meal. Doctors have done tests – and they say this is not true. They say you can’t see any change in the colour of the mealie meal.

We now think it’s time for the companies to do something. After all, the bosses of some companies want the world to think they are nice guys.

Learn and Teach also asks the Health Department and the government to wake up. They have known about pellagra and mealie meal for a long time. Why do they just wait for the companies to do something?

Learn and Teach has sent this letter to the 10 biggest mealie meal companies. We have also sent this letter to the Health Department and the Minister of Health. Why must people get sick – when they can so easily be saved?



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