Informal slaughtering of animals and handling of raw meat within the boudaries of the City of Cape Town, for the purpose of sale to the public for human consumption, is an area of concern from an environmental health point of view. Standards and requirements for the transport and handling of raw meat is covered by Part 5 of the City of Cape Town's Environmental Health By-Law - GN 6041 of 2003.
The two main areas of concern are:-
- The illegally slaughtered carcasses are not being inspected by trained personnel to ensure that the meat, which is offered for sale to the general public, is free of disease and parasites (tapeworm), which could be transmitted to humans (zoonosis) and,
- The lack of basic health and hygiene compliance, and the negative impact of the practice on the environment.
The practice of informal slaughtering is usually found in the informal settlement areas, where people have little money to spend on meat from a licensed butchery or meat market. Unfortunately, there are a number of health related risks involved in buying meat from these informal meat dealers, including:-
- Tapeworm and Roundworm infections.
- Erysipelas infection.
- Tuberculosis infection from unpasteurised informal milk supplies.
- Other infections.
Health and hygiene standards are often compromised by the following:-
- Unsuitable stable or kraal structures: These structures do not always facilitate suitable or adequate cleaning or manure removal. This ultimately leads to increased fly breeding, soil pollution, foul odours and other health related nuisances. These structures also do not provide adequate protection and cover for the animals being kept, and do not comply with the most basic health and hygiene requirements. Standards and requirements for structures is covered by Part 2 of the City of Cape Town's Environmental Health By-Law - GN 6041 of 2003.
- Inhumane slaughtering practices: Animals are often slaughtered in full view of the public, and the method of slaughter is not as humane as it would be in an approved abattoir. These methods often lead to numerous complaints from members of the public.
- Unsuitable display of meat products: There is an increased risk of cross-contamination of the meat products when a) clean and dirty offal are mixed, b) unsuitable working surfaces, c) handling of the products by the general public, d) no temperature control (cold chain), e) and the products being open to contamination by dust, dirt, flies and other contaminants. If the products were pre-packed or wrapped, contamination would be greatly reduced. Meat displayed for sale at an informal meat dealer is not refrigerated (lack of electricity); thereby reducing its shelf life and increasing the risk of transferring disease. Standards and requirements for Food Premises are covered by the Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises and the Transport of Food - R 918 of 1999.
- Incorrect handling procedures: The meat handlers do not always wear suitable protective clothing, carcasses are often left lying on the ground (contamination and soil pollution), and meat products are not always separated and stored in suitable clean containers.
- Unhygienic disposal of waste products: Waste products are often left lying on the ground, which contributes to soil pollution, fly breeding, odours, rodent attraction, and other health nuisances.
- Unsuitable transportation of meat products: Vehicles used for the transportation of meat products are often dirty, with the meat being stored on the floor of the vehicle, and this leads to an increased risk of contamination by dust, dirt and exhaust fumes.
Safe meat supplies
It is of utmost importance to ensure that the meat that we buy and consume is healthy and safe, and does not pose a health risk to our families and ourselves. The safest way to ensure the above is to have animals slaughtered at an approved abattoir, where the carcasses are inspected by trained Meat Inspectors. If meat is found to be unsafe or unsound at such an abattoir, that carcase or meat is condemned and destroyed.
Stamp of approval
Carcasses that bear the stamp of an approved slaughtering facility informs the consumer that the animal has been slaughtered under strict hygienic conditions and that the meat has been thoroughly inspected to ensure that it is disease free and safe for human consumption.