With the closure of the City Corporation’s abattoir at Kunnukuzy, illegal slaughterhouses in the city and suburbs are having a field day, which ostensibly puts a question mark on the quality of meat supplied to more than 200 meat outlets from where residents and hoteliers buy beef and mutton for daily consumption.

The only Corporation-run abattoir at Kunnukuzy, which used to slaughter 25 animals every day, was closed down on February 7 after the Pollution Control Board ordered its closure for non-compliance in setting up plants to treat slaughter waste. Even when the abattoir was functioning, illegal slaughtering and sale of meat existed, but with its closure, unauthorised slaughterhouses are having a free run posing serious heath hazards.

The owner of a meat stall near Kowdiar told The Hindu that they were left with no option but to supply bovines and goats to illegal abattoirs for getting meat. The unauthorised abattoirs functioning at places such as Vallakadavu, Paruthikuzhi, Pettah, Thirumala, Kesavadasapuram and in most of the markets defy the very concept of a slaughterhouse. It was not just the unhygienic surroundings, more shocking was the egregious manner in which the animals were killed, said a meat shop owner, who was once witness to the horrific killing of an animal using an iron rod.

Asked why he procured meat from such illegal houses, he shot back, “where else will I go? I need to run my family and I am into the business for more than 20 years.”

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Prevention of Food Adulteration and other related rules prescribe certain well laid out guidelines that should be followed while slaughtering animals. This was to ensure that animals are slaughtered in a humane manner and the meat supplied was hygienic. The rules recommend that an ante-mortem examination should be conducted 12 hours before the animal was taken for slaughtering.

Once a qualified veterinarian certified that the animal was fit for slaughter, it should be fed with fodder and water. The internal organs of the slaughtered animal should be examined to detect zoonotic diseases, illness caused by infectious agents that could be transmitted from animals to humans, such as tuberculosis, leptospirosis and brucellosis, said a veterinarian who was earlier associated with the City Corporation.

The animals slaughtered in unauthorised units were rarely screened and therefore could lead to transmission of diseases, he added.

Admitting that the undue delay in setting up waste treatment plants led to the closure, a Corporation official said “with the abattoir being closed, we don’t have the moral authority to enforce shut down of illegal outlets. There are also several practical difficulties.”

Health Officer D. Sreekumar told The Hindu that the civic body was awaiting clearance to set up two waste treatment plants at the Kunnukuzy abattoir.