The government has been called upon to establish state-of-the-art slaughter houses in each region of the country to ensure the needed environment for slaughtering animals and processing meat for sale to the public.
Professor Frederick Adzitey, Head of Department of Animal Science at the University for Development Studies (UDS), who made call, said this would help curb the unhygienic conditions under which animals were slaughtered, and meat processed, to avoid meat contamination and indirect food poisoning as well as illnesses associated with the consumption of contaminated meat.
Professor Adzitey, who is Professor in Meat Science and Food Safety, made the call when delivering his inaugural lecture at the UDS in Tamale on the topic: “Sustainable Meat Safety in the 21st Century: Our Responsibility”.
Professor Adzitey, who is 42 years-old, through this lecture, which was the 13th in the series of inaugural lectures organised by the UDS, became the youngest person to become Professor at the UDS.
He bemoaned the unhygienic conditions under which animals were slaughtered, and meats handled such as people carrying meat on taxis, motorbikes, and also meat being sold in open areas in markets with flies hovering over them.
Statistics showed that globally, an estimated 69 billion chickens, 1.5 billion pigs, 656 million turkeys, 574 million sheep, 479 million goats and 302 million cattle were slaughtered for meat production in 2018.
Figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization showed that Ghana’s meat production increased from 62,493.00 tonnes in 1961 to 290,563.00 tonnes in 2018.
Whilst meat is an essential component of the diet of Ghanaians, who prefer local meat to imported meat, meat and meat products are associated with biological, chemical and physical hazards, which pose a threat to food safety and human health.
Professor Adzitey said whilst there was huge opportunity and potential for the local animal industry to increase production to meet the rising demand for meat products, efforts must also be directed at promoting safety of meat processed in the country to avoid various food-borne illnesses associated with the consumption of contaminated meat.
He, therefore, called for “Observance of good animal husbandry practices such as the provision of proper housing and keeping animals in clean environment, potable water, nutritious/balanced and safe feed, disease prevention and control practices, avoidance of abuse of veterinary drugs and regular vaccination of animals” to ensure sustainable meat safety.
He cautioned butchers against slaughtering sick animals and or animals on antibiotics for food urging meat sellers to transport and sell meat under hygienic conditions.
He emphasised that “Only clean and healthy animals should be slaughtered. Slaughtered animals should not be dressed on the floor but dressed hanging. Ideally, the slaughter room temperature should be eight degrees Celsius to 12 degrees Celsius and dirty offals should be separated from clean carcasses.”
Professor Adzitey added that “Post-mortem meat inspection should also be conducted by qualified veterinary officers and only wholesome carcasses should be passed for consumption. Meats should be transported in meat vans and not on motorbikes, tricycles, taxis and unapproved vehicles.”
He also advised that “Meat should be sold from netted tables, and ideally sold from refrigerators at four degrees Celsius for fresh meats and -18 degrees Celsius for frozen meats.”
He called on the Ghana Standard Authority, and the Food and Drugs Authority to enforce food/meat safety laws to help protect the population.
Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, Vice-Chancellor of UDS emphasised the need for meat consumers to adhere to meat safety protocols to avoid contamination.
He commended Professor Adzitey for his hard work, and commitment to duty.
By Albert Futukpor, GNA