With just one slaughterhouse for Kochi, slaying is in the open

As the city corporation prepares programmes to improve facilities at two of its slaughterhouses, sale of meat from unauthorised slaughterhouses continues quietly in various parts of the city.

The Maradu police on Friday registered a case against a man after local residents found him trying to kill a cow at Champakkara. Residents had alleged that the man was about to slaughter and sell the meat of the diseased cow. Though the police later conducted tests on the animal to show that the animal was healthy, the concern over lack of hygiene at unauthorised slaughterhouses continues.

The city has just two slaughterhouses that have licenses from the corporation – one at Kaloor and the other at Mattancherry. The abattoir at Mattancherry has been non-functional for a few years, leaving the Kaloor slaughterhouse as the only authorised abattoir in the city.

The shutting down of the Mattancherry abattoir has led to several unauthorised operations springing up in West Kochi. Corporation officials, however, are turning a blind eye to the illegal establishments.

“We cannot implement the law effectively unless we have the necessary infrastructure,” said T.K. Ashraf, Corporation Health Standing Committee chairman. Mr. Ashraf said the corporation had development plans of Rs.2.6 crore for renovating the Mattancherry abattoir. “We have envisioned a slaughterhouse with modern equipment at Mattancherry. It will be clean and will have sufficient capacity,” he said.

All animals slaughtered at the licensed abattoir at Kaloor are certified healthy pre-mortem by a veterinarian and checked post-mortem for certification. Checking by the veterinarian and meat inspectors is expected to ensure that the animals do not transmit diseases to the consumers. No such checks are made at unlicensed slaughterhouses.

As per unofficial Health Department estimates, 95 per cent of meat sold in the State is uncertified meat from unlicensed slaughterhouses. The recent seizure of unhygienic ‘tsunami’ meat from Palluruthy threw light on the need to certify meat reaching meat vendors.

Experts said the only reason more people weren’t falling ill from consuming the uncertified meat was because of the style of cooking.

“The Indian cooking system ensures that disease-causing agents in meat are killed off during preparation. The problem occurs when meat goes into value-added products such as puffs, samosas, and burgers, that are not cooked well,” said Kishore Kumar K.J., veterinary surgeon with the corporation.

The police suspect that the ‘tsunami’ meat was also being packed off to hotels and bakeries in and around the city. Bakers in the city too are concerned that the fear over unhygienic meat had led to a fall in the sales of their meat-based products.

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