By Ify Mgbemena
Meat haulage refers to the transportation of livestock and meat products from the point of origin to the point of consumption. This process is very important to the country’s meat industry because it makes sure that meat products get to consumers on time and in good condition.
However, the meat haulage system in Nigeria does not conform to global best practices that guarantee safety for the transporters, the carcass and the consumers. In the daily haulage of meat carcasses, vehicles such as open vans, motorcycles (okada) and wheelbarrows are used to transport meat from abattoirs/slaughter facilities to various meat markets.
It is no longer news that this method of transportation is unhygienic and undesired especially when carcasses had to be transported on wheel barrows ,open vans ,pick up vans , among others thereby exposing the meat to high level contamination and quality compromise.
Fresh meats are easily contaminated with a variety of microorganisms and, if not properly handled and preserved, they support growth of spoilage and pathogenic species, leading to loss of quality and potential public health problems. Microorganisms are introduced through a variety of sources when the sterile muscles of healthy animals are exposed to the environment during slaughter, cutting and further handling. These sources include air, water, soil, feces, feed, hides, hair, feathers, wool, intestines, lymph nodes, processing equipment, utensils and humans.
The multiplicity of contamination sources and the variability in facilities and practices of slaughtering and processing operations may lead to variations in types of microorganisms and, especially, extent of contamination introduced in meat and poultry, which may also vary with individual herds or flocks, animals or birds, geographic location and season of the year. Cleanliness of animals and birds is an important factor affecting the contamination of meat and poultry and is influenced by climate, location, method of transportation and holding conditions.
Additional contamination may be derived from exposure to the environment of the slaughtering, dressing, chilling and cutting processes, while carcass decontamination interventions may reduce levels, and change the composition of contamination. Thus, types and extent of contamination also depend on sanitation procedures, hygienic practices, product handling and processing, and conditions of storage and distribution.
In recent years, some highly publicized outbreaks of foodborne disease caused by pathogenic bacteria, such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, have increased consumer concerns and interest in food safety. As a result, regulatory authorities and the industry have undertaken efforts to improve sanitary conditions and the microbiological quality of meat and poultry. Actions taken by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) include the “Cattle Clean Meat Program” and the “Zero Tolerance” policy of 1993, which instructed inspectors to enforce the requirement of knife-trimming for removal of all visible physical contaminants from carcasses prior to washing and chilling; and the enforcement of new inspection regulations for meat and poultry, which require establishment of sanitation standard operating procedures, operation under the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety management system, and establishment of microbiological performance criteria and standards for Escherichia coli biotype I and Salmonella levels of contamination as a means of verifying proper application of HACCP.
During a visit to one of the slaughterhouses in Gwagwalada, Abuja, AgroNigeria discovered that these cattle are butchered and divided into four parts then they are packed in wheelbarrows and covered with nylon then tied with rope,and pushed to the market, to them that is the best way to protect the meat from being contaminated as it journeys from the slaughterhouse to the market .
Speaking with one of the butcher men, Mr Ibrahim when asked about the challenges they face during meat haulage said that “most times there are no available vehicles/cooling vans so the best, cheap and most suitable option for them is to transport the meat carcasses through those wheelbarrows and motorcycles down to the market.”
A meat trader in Gwagwalada market, Alhaji Musa Yaro, said “Considering the perishable nature of meat, it’s essential to improve on the operation of meat processing, as meat hygiene is an important aspect of food safety. The current method of transportation is not a very hygienic one, but we do not have too many options either, so we believe that once there’s adequate intervention from the government and necessary stakeholders then the meat haulage system would be more hygienic and healthy.”
As part of its ongoing efforts to modernize Nigeria’s meat haulage system, the Federal Government recently gave butchers and meat sellers across the country a deadline to stop moving meat in open vans, pick-up vans, wheelbarrows, and other types of vehicles.
The post Why Butchers Transport Meat on Motorcycles, Wheelbarrows first appeared on AgroNigeria.