Meeting public health safety standards
The unsanitary conditions under which livestock is slaughtered and sold in approved public spaces has been getting the attention of the Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries. The potential risks to public health are a major concern for Deputy Superintendent of Police Kevin Francis.
In this regard, the unit is moving to ensure that butchers produce their licences for inspection and attend the nearest police station to record the description of the animal(s) to be slaughtered, in advance, as the law dictates.
This information should be recorded in the Cattle Slaughter Register at the respective stations in accordance with Section 9 of the Livestock Control Order (1973) as well as the Public Health Act.
This has come out of the inspection of abattoirs and meat shops by the unit, whose ongoing efforts to get butchers to make a declaration on the lawful source of their meat has been met with strong resistance. The police, however, have been unrelenting in their efforts to get butchers to comply.
To this end, a directive issued on Friday, December 15, 2015 instructs police divisional commanders to institute a system to inspect abattoirs and meat shops within their respective divisions on Fridays and Saturdays each week, as well as other days designated for slaughtering of livestock. In addition, they were also mandate to make an electronic filing on the results of their findings each week.
In the 11-week period from December 18, 2015- March 1, 2016, some 147 abattoirs and meat shops across the country were visited in the company of Public Health Department inspectors and all the abattoirs were found to be compliant with the laws governing the Public Health (Butchers and Food Handling) regulations as well as the Livestock Control Order (1973).
It was during this period of inspection that the Boston Jerk Centre in Portland was ordered closed for poor sanitation and preparation of meat on Thursday, January 14. Further inspection on Saturday, February 20 found that the breaches had been corrected, clearing the way for its reopening the following day.
A matter of concern for the public health inspectors during the observation was that abattoir operations in Manchester were being undermined by a scarcity of water, resulting in the unhygienic practice of
re-using water during the washing of meat. Butchers were warned that water used to clean the carcass should be separate from that used for cleaning the intestines.
It was also reported that on several visits there were no Public Health Inspectors available. Instead, it were the police who conducted the inspections.