The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs has joined forces with the Agricultural Ministry to ensure that butchers follow specific guidelines this festive season.
Noting that more persons are looking to purchase meat around that time, the Ministry called on butchers to follow all safety measures to maintain ‘best practices.’
The Environmental Health Department and the Ministry of Agriculture earlier today, outlined some of the critical procedures to be followed.
According to Sementha Tisson, Environmental Health Officer in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, “to operate a slaughterhouse butchers must ensure the following: running water, concrete slab, waste and wastewater management (and) hand washing facility with soap.”
She also explained that good personal hygiene must be observed. Tisson further noted that butchers’ helpers should be dressed appropriately and should have valid health certificates. Proper hair covering is also required.
“No smoking or eating whilst handling meats and meat products. Jewellery should not be worn during slaughtering,” she added.
Butchers who fail to adhere to the procedures risk losing their products, Tisson said.
Live animals will be tagged by the Ministry of Agriculture and must be approved 24 hours before slaughter and repeated if the slaughter is delayed for over a day. Once the meat receives a passing grade, it is stamped and approved for sale.
Columbus Philippe, Livestock Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture said, “the major objectives of ante mortem inspection are, to screen all animals destined to slaughter; to ensure that animals are properly rested and are treated humanely; to ensure that proper clinical information which will assist in disease diagnosis and judgement is obtained; to reduce contamination of carcasses by extraneous matter.”
Also, “to identify reportable animal diseases; to prevent sick, pregnant, and those treated with antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents, insecticides and pesticides from slaughter.”
Philippe said the process must include a full exam of the animal, both in rest and in motion.
Behaviour, nutritional status, cleanliness, signs of diseases and abnormalities are all key checkpoints during the examination, he stated.
“Some of the abnormalities which are checked on examination include respiration, behaviour, gait, posture, structure and conformation, discharges, and protrusions from body orifices; skin and mucosa colour and odour. Inspector’s ante mortem judgement must be performed at the admission of animals. Animals showing signs of diseases should be held for further veterinary examination,” Philippe said.
According to the Ministry, a butcher must be registered with the Ministry of Health if they are to slaughter and sell meat and meat products. Registration is currently ongoing and will end on December 22.