Sequel to the new reforms that the State Government has adopted to sanitize the red meat value chain in the State, the State Government has unfolded what it termed the immediate, intermediate and long term strategies for immediate implementation in the State.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal disclosed this in Lagos over the weekend when he met with Presidents, Secretaries and members of the Board of Trustees of the Butchers Association in the State in order to avail them of the new reforms as well as solicited their cooperation and support for the success of the reforms in the red meat value chain.
He recalled that the main objective of the sanitization exercise in the red meat value chain are the promotion of the red meat value chain by providing wholesome and hygienically processed beef for the populace as well as boosting beef processing to international standards in order to facilitate export opportunities and foreign investment into the value chain.
“A 21st Century Lagos wants to raise the standard of slaughtering, processing and marketing of red meat in the state. The purpose is to ensure the safety and health of the populace by ensuring that only certified animals are slaughtered and wholesome beef is available in our markets. This will also boost international recognition of beef from the state thus opening up an export portal which will be a source of forex, This is what Lagos is pushing for, a conducive and hygienic environment in the red meat value chain,” the Commissioner observed.
According to the Commissioner, among the immediate strategies for implementation is the linking of approved slaughter houses and abattoirs to the markets being supplied through the EKO refrigerated meat vans adding that abattoirs supplying various markets are identified and classified using the meat vans such that butchers in such abattoirs are not only identified but linked to the market they supply with the use of a color tag/code.
He explained that henceforth butchers in the State would be issued veterinary meat hygiene certificate for health and wholesomeness after inspection of carcass by veterinary officers and certificates and colored or coded tags for their respective vendors stressing that any butchers or vendors with certificates and tags would therefore be expected to load the products into coded meat vans en route to their specified markets.
“The proposed flow of activity is to ensure that only certified carcasses leave the approved abattoir. The products are tagged and traceable to butchers/vendors and markets by use of coded EKO meat vans. This strategy will prevent street hawking of beef and sale of beef from illegal abattoirs as coded markets will be made public and the populace would be advised to only purchase from same,” he noted.
The Commissioner stressed that the issuance of the veterinary meat hygiene certificate for health and wholesomeness is compulsory and backed by Schedules 4 and 5 Cap M3 Meat Inspection Laws of Lagos State adding that no butcher or meat vendor can sell without the certificate in the State.
Lawal noted that a monitoring team comprising officials of the Ministries of Health, Environment and Water Resources, Special Duties and Inter Governmental Relations, Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas as well as the monitoring, enforcement and compliance unit of Ministry of Agriculture such as Veterinary Microbiologists and Pathologists has since been constituted in order to ensure the effective implementation of the reforms.
The Commissioner further highlighted the need for the standardization of abattoirs activities in the State such that all the approved abattoirs are not only functional, hygienic and conducive for slaughtering activities but strictly adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
“There must be continuous availability of clean water supply and there must be prompt disposal of waste from the abattoirs. Any person in possession of beef for sale without our certificate will have such products confiscated and the person prosecuted,” Lawal averred.
He added that part of the intermediates strategies are that concessionaires will be mandated to complete all necessary construction and upgrade within a specified timeline; any concessionaires that renege on terms of contract/agreement will have such contract reviewed; the upgrade of markets to comply with international standards and introduction of modern and standard butchering tables with removable tops.
“Our long term strategies will involve livestock identification and traceability system such that an animal can be traced from the cattle market to shops; the use of meat boxes instead of bags to convey beef cuts and the set up recall/return strategies if there is a problem with a particular batch of meat,” the Commissioner added.
Other according to him are the creation of a butcher’s database/log so that details of butchers in the State are captured and numbered accordingly, introduction of batching and coding system using the identity of each butcher that will allow easy tracking and tracing of abattoir activities and the establishment of functional prototype meat shops across all the divisions in the State.