With food safety being a need in Saint Lucia’s agriculture sector, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security, and Rural Development together with the Department of Environmental Health Thursday hosted a Meat Inspection Training Programme.
This two-part training program primarily targeted officers from the Livestock Division and the Department of Environmental Health. The training included both a practical and theoretical session on how to conduct proper antemortem and postmortem inspections. An antemortem inspection is performed on an animal before slaughter, whereas a post mortem inspection is performed after a slaughter.
According to Animal Health Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Columbus Phillipe while Saint Lucia is not known to have any diseases that would render the carcasses unsafe; there are conditions that can render the meat’s quality unmarketable. He emphasized the importance of the inspections in protecting public health by ensuring that carcasses and parts entering commerce are wholesome and disease-free.
“Both ministries are suffering from the lack of resources in terms of manpower. A Lot of the old guys so to speak are on their way out and we’re seeking to train the younger members of staff, it’s a more in-house training program assisted by PAO.
We are trying to pass on the knowledge, pass on the information to the younger staff and to bring into the fold where they could carry out an inspection when myself and other senior members leave,” Phillippe said.
Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Consultant, Claudius Prospere says that whilst antemortem and post mortem training are necessary and informative, the onus is on the participants to continue to practice and improve their skill set.
“We are hoping that after they have witnessed what has happened here today that it prompts them because you’d well appreciate that this one-off session will not make them qualified or versed in conducting post mortem and antemortem inspections so we are hoping that this session would serve as a springboard where they can go out there and do further research and continue this kind of inspection so that they can be well versed,” Prospere said.
Before slaughtering animals for commerce, livestock butchers/farmers should contact the Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary and Livestock Division. Consumers are also urged to exercise caution and safety when purchasing meat products.