Certain hygienic practices are to be followed for the production of wholesome meat
Meat and meat products are commonly used by a large number of people in Nepal.
Common people buy meat from the public and private slaughter-houses without really caring for the quality and hygiene, nor do they have much idea about storage of surplus meat. This article intends to provide some basic knowledge on hygienic production of meat, its quality standards and different means of preservation.
Fresh meat has been a major source of nourishment for the vast majority of the people in the world and so too in Nepal. Modem, commercialized dealing of meat is mostly done after its processing and preservation. Meat is a good source of protein and energy but due to contamination it often also becomes a source of many diseases. Hence the quality of meat is an important aspect of its production, sale and consumption. It is important that common people are thus aware.
Human body requires water, protein, fat, carbohydrate, mineral salts including trace elements and vitamins. Meat contains all these nutrients, especially the proteins and amino acids. It has high energy content, ability to build up and replace body tissues, high biological value and high absorbability in the system.
Handling the kill
For the production of wholesome meat, which is safe to the consumer, certain hygienic standards are to be followed. Animals should be given sufficient rest before slaughter; provided with plenty of water to drink; and not fed one hour before the slaughter. In order to eliminate weak and diseased ones, there should be careful examination of the animals. Only those animals which produce carcasses of quality and nourishment should be slaughtered.
The slaughtering and bleeding of the animal need great care and should be completed before dressing of the carcass. The carcass should be examined thoroughly in order to eliminate all diseased material. While separating the contaminated portions, great care should be taken to ensure that the edible portions of the carcass do not get infected. Also to prevent the contamination of carcass, all cleaning operations of dressing the carcass, should be separately done from the filthy operations like clearing of stomachs, guts, etc.
To prevent any kind of contamination in the edible portions of meat during transportation and sale, strict environmental sanitation control methods should be adopted. Apart from this, the hygiene of the persons involved in slaughtering, dressing and handling of meat and meat products is equally important. In the interest of public health, the personnel should undergo medical examination on a regular basis. This may not be always practicable so at least when they are ill, they should not be allowed to handle operations at any stage.
Besides these, all the equipments to be used for the processing of the meat should be disinfected before use and kept clean. Meat and meat products should be stored in fool proof containers and if they are to be kept for a long time before their sale, they must be refrigerated especially during summer months. It is always better to have refrigeration facilities during transportation also. To ensure the production of pure and safe meat, it is essential to have a systematized inspection by a skilled and trained person.
The meat inspectors should carry out anti and post mortem examination of the food animals. Apart from this, it is meat inspectors’ duty to ensure that meat is handled under hygienic conditions right from the slaughtering house till it reaches to the consumer.
In countries in this region, there are two types of slaughter-houses. Public slaughter-houses are managed and controlled by public bodies and local municipal administration. The other type is private slaughter-houses. All cities and towns have one or more public slaughter-houses whereas in the rural areas a large number of private slaughter places/houses are found. There is a dearth of qualified staff of veterinarians as meat inspectors in both the public slaughterhouses and private ones.
Most of the places/slaughter-houses do not have proper infrastructural facilities. Bad ventilation, lack of proper drainage and as such the meat produced under these circumstances cannot be expected to be of high quality. Although the meat is consumed after being cooked thoroughly and carefully, it is not a correct practice. The government proposes to renovate present slaughterhouses by introducing improved technologies. But this scheme has not received enthusiastic support from public bodies as it involves big expenditure.
However, this drawback can be reduced with better utilization of slaughter-house waste products. On the other hand, small abattoirs (slaughter-houses) can be constructed on a cooperative basis for a group of villages. Slaughtering can be allowed only for fixed hours and also a veterinarian can be employed as meat inspector.
These measures will help. Otherwise, a marathon monitoring of slaughter places and meat shops doesn’t serve any good purpose.
The author has a post-graduate degree in meat inspection and slaughter-house management