Rebecca Ejifoma

Worried over the continuous unhygienic handling of meat products in Nigeria, the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) Lagos has warned meat sellers against unhygienic slaughtering and processing of cattle for consumption in dirty environments or exposing it to flies and other germs.

The association made the call at the Meat Hygiene Awareness Campaign 2017 held at Agege in Lagos at the weekend.

According to the Chairman of the Association, Dr. Omobolaji Alao, consumption of such unhygienic meat and meat products often come with some health dangers as a number of diseases can be contacted if not properly handled.

“Such harmful practice can result in Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Leptospirosis Salmonellosis (typhoid fever) among others.” He lamented that Nigeria is fourth in the world with highest cases of tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, Alao disclosed that a global report conducted in 2014 by the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) had it that over 600,000 new cases of tuberculosis occurred in Nigeria.

“Brucellosis – caused by Brucellaabortus, an organism that is common in cattle – is a common occurrence in herdsmen and abattoir workers who have shown higher antibody titres for this organism; adding that this occurs via the illicit handling of aborted foetuses by herdsmen or evacuated foetuses from slaughtered cows at abattoirs.

The chairman suggested, however, that the meat produced for sale should be neatly packaged, protected from flies and buyers robbing them with hands.

“We demand butchers to desist from unwholesome means of slaughtering and processing of meat animals at our various slaughter houses and abattoirs especially slaughtering of meat animals on bare floor. They should embrace modern and hygienic process of slaughtering meat animals.”

Accordingly, statistics shows that Lagos State slaughters about 6,000 cattle daily (aside sheep, goats and pigs). “But we have just 24 veterinarians in Lagos State employment to supervise the slaughtering of these animals and still conduct other duties.”

He alongside his team unanimously suggested that meat vendors should sell in hygienic selling wares, neatly wrapped in cellophanes and stored in refrigerating systems. “Government should speed up the upgrade of existing slaughter facilities to accommodate modern trends and the rapid completion of private abattoirs around the state.”