KINGSTON — Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Robert Montague, is urging public health officers to ensure that meat inspections are done at the location where the animals are slaughtered.
Additionally, he wants the officers to make sure that butchers are registered with the local health Board, and are in possession of a log book, as stipulated by the regulations governing their operations.
Speaking at a food safety workshop for food industry regulatory agencies and stakeholders at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, University of the West Indies (UWI), last week, Mr. Montague cited instances of breaches by butchers who were not registered, not in possession of the book, and “more often than not”, slaughter in unregulated locations. The Minister pointed to cases of animals being transported to public health officers, prior to being slaughtered.
“The regulations clearly state that the public health officer should proceed to the place of slaughter and the animal should not go to the public health officer. I am therefore, encouraging all our public health officers to ensure that when you are inspecting at the place of slaughter, that the butcher has the requisite log book with the description of the animal, and that the place of slaughter also has its own log book,” he emphasised.
Mr. Montague also underscored that the animal should bear the stamp of approval, as administered by the public health officer who undertook the inspection. He pointed out that it is illegal to transport an animal slated for slaughtering, which does not bear the requisite public health stamp.
“We had a meeting with the Police High Command and I reminded them of this regulation, that they do not need to have the description of the animal when they are doing an investigation. As long as the animal is not stamped with the public health stamp and it is being transported, it is illegal,” he informed.
Mr. Montague pointed to one instance of a public health stamp being “rented out”, advising that investigations are being conducted into this illegal activity.
The Minister also highlighted what he described as a longstanding regulation, that where an animal is being moved from one police jurisdiction to another, a report should be made to one of the police stations in the Division from which it is being removed. This is to enable an entry to be made in the station’s diary.
“So, if another constable stops you outside of that specific jurisdiction, they can call the original station (for verification). That, to me, makes a lot of sense, and what I will be doing is to not only look at that regulation, but to do an amendment that if you find a vehicle transporting an animal that is not so reported to the police, we should seize that vehicle,” he said.
“We have to make praedial larceny expensive to the man who is trying it. Good people have suffered too long in this country against those who reap what they do not sow and slaughter what they do not buy,” Mr. Montague added.
The two-day workshop was hosted by the Ministry’s Veterinary Services Division under the theme: ‘The Role of Veterinary Services in Food Safety – The Way Forward’.
Over 20 participants in the food industry attended the forum, which facilitated interactive discussions between the Division, other regulatory agencies and sector stakeholders engaged in providing safe animal products.
The forum was aimed at increasing awareness of the role and functionality of veterinary services in food safety, based on international standards, as well as to examine options with alternatives in achieving required food safety standards.
By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter