The state of our abattoirs/slaughter houses and meat markets is not only an eyesore but unhygienic and harmful to health. This situation has been worsened by government’s seemingly indifference. By the way, which agency is responsible for ensuring standardization and adoption of best practices in abattoirs and meat markets in this country?
It starts from the abattoir. There is no one to inspect and ascertain if it is safe and healthy for consumption. The animal is stunned/killed and butchered on a slaughter floor that has not been washed for ages, darkened with blood and dung. Flies and vultures had of course feasted on the previous undisposed effluent and solid wastes, blood and bones. The hide or skin (as the case may be) is singed with fire ignited and kept alight with all sorts of fuel (wood and coal, rubber and plastic, kerosene and petrol, shells etc) including those that emit poisonous fumes and gases that are readily absorbed into the carcass.
The truth remains that the state of abattoirs and meat markets in Nigeria is well below average. All the unhygienic practices adopted from the slaughter of unhealthy animals to consumption of contaminated meat are all to consumer’s detriment. The authority responsible for inspecting abattoirs and meat markets should wake to their duty. The local authorities should make the attainment of certain standards mandatory for the licensing of any slaughterhouse or meat market. This should include proper sanitation logistics and acquirement of processing and storage facilities.There should be certified veterinarians to inspect animals before and after slaughter. This is to ensure that animals with diseases such as swine flu and the B S E (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) are not consumed. A situation where scavengers and carnivores scamper for space during and especially after trading hours is unimaginably insanitary. There should be health inspectors to ensure that meat plants and selling depots adopt very high sanitation standard (this should be the work of officials of Sanitation Units in Medical and Health Departments of the Local Government authorities).
In the Asaba,the capital of Delta State, there are four major abattoirs namely, Marine, okwe, Abraka Market and Camp-74.
Slaughtering and processing of cows for meat products should be done in a clean and hygienic environment.This was only visible at the Camp-74 Abattoir as monitored by Grassroots Publishers online.
Naturally, as a food processing institution, it would be assumed that the abattoir should maintain standard hygiene and safety as much as possible just as most of us take extra care of what we consume. Also, a visit to some abattoirs would be an experience that may perpetually discourage you from eating meat due to the gross unhygienic conditions and procedures.
I remember my first experiences in the abattoirs in Asaba two years ago – My thoughts assumed some exaggeration on their part, thinking “It can’t be that bad”. But upon resumption, what I saw with my own eyes was indeed that bad! The abattoir environment and main slaughterhouse was the filthiest I have seen till date.
The slaughterhouse floor and run-off gutters were filled with a gory mixture of blood, excreta, intestinal ingesta, water, and other putrefied biological waste. And the smell (oh, the smell!), would make your stomach turn irritatingly in protest. And as if this wasn’t enough, the slaughterhouse and abattoir environment was only cleaned (only twice a week),But our visit to Camp-74 abattoir environment headed by Comrade Sunday Odenigbo yesterday,we saw an organised butchers union ,an improved meat hygiene and a cleaned environment with running tap (Bore-Hole)on like other abattoirs that uses unhygienic water from the rivers to wash their meats.
we are calling on other abattoirs in Asaba and Delta State in general to emulate the Infant Jesus Abattoirs by establishing Hygienic abattoirs in the state.
A situation where meat is displayed in the open for files and micro-organism to comfortably brood is grossly unhygienic. These flies could cause diseases like typhoid, cholera and dysentery. They have also been associated with salmonella, anthrax and tuberculosis as well as transfer of eggs of parasitic worms to meat.
For a while now, there have been various media reports and outcries concerning the dilapidating and grossly unhygienic states of our abattoirs. One of the first documented media report was on the state of abattoirs and meat markets where the Grassroots Publishers Online also described a similar typical abattoir scenario, urging state government and veterinary professionals to take responsibility, improve meat hygiene and the state of abattoirs.
Comrade Sunny Odenigbo, the Chairman of Camp-74 Abattoir has called on the state and local government to train and educate our butchers on standard hygiene and occupational safety in processing meat for human consumption. We need to answer this call to renovate our abattoirs to international, occupational and hygienic standards, and also set sustainable structures for future maintenance of our abattoirs.
We also need to answer the urgent call to protect the Nigerian human population from various infectious and zoonotic diseases that are gotten from unhealthy consumption of and unsafe association with food animals.
Furthermore, this urgent call is important for us to attain international standards of meat processing and food safety, and in fact make Nigeria a major exporter of meat and meat products to other countries, thereby generating another major source of revenue for our country. This urgent call is also another opportunity for to establish innovative economic solutions to managing and utilising the huge amount of biological waste and by-products that our abattoirs produce on a regular basis. Everyone’s health would be affected if we don’t pay attention to our abattoirs.
Everyone has to pay urgent attention to our abattoirs.