Carcasses sold 40%-60% cheaper to eateries; Chennai Central hub of illegal business
Meat derived from rotting carcasses in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh has been finding its way to shops and eateries in the city, investigations by The Hindu have revealed.
Carcasses from Nellore, Vijayawada and Kakinada are routinely transported in trains to the city.
While Chennai Central is the hub of this illegal meat sale, Egmore station is not far behind. Circar Express, connecting Kakinada and Vijayawada to Egmore, regularly transports meat to the city.
Even as Chennai Corporation’s health department continues to focus on anti-mortem and post-mortem inspection of animals butchered in the three slaughter houses in Villivakkkam, Saidapet and Perambur respectively, these smuggled carcasses escape scrutiny.
As many as 1,650 heads of cattle are slaughtered on a daily basis in the city under the supervision of veterinary surgeons of Chennai Corporation. They stamp the meat found fit for consumption.
But at the same time, meat from Andhra Pradesh reaches supply points in temporary structures along the Cooum. Some structures are located on Greams Road near Mackay’s Garden, near the offices of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission.
The low price of the unhygienic meat is a major reason for its popularity among many small meat shops and hotels. Mutton, beef and chicken sold at these places cost 40 per cent to 60 per cent less than stamped meat.
Most of the smuggled meat, which is contained in 100-kg boxes, reaches the city through Wall Tax Road between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. The price of meat reduces with the quality.
A chunk of the meat is used by small restaurants in low-end residential localities, but it also finds its way into eateries in posh areas such as Adyar and Anna Nagar.
Businessmen associated with this illegal trade claim they clean the meat in specially-made facilities in areas like Vyasarpadi to make it fit for consumption. This meat is sold at a higher price, but does not have the stamp of the corporation’s health department.
According to dieticians, the consumption of unhygienic meat products can lead to liver and renal damage and prove fatal.
“You may destroy the bacteria by cooking. But you won’t be able to destroy the toxins,” said Meenakshi Bajaj of the Institute of Diabetology, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital.
Chemicals such as sodium nitrite used to preserve such products are said to cause cancer, she said. The large amount of ajinomoto used by hotels to increase the taste of such poor quality meat products may also be carcinogenic.
“We have 800 licensed meat shops in the old city limits. But there is no proper system of licensing in the newly-added areas of the city. We are continuing to conduct raids on such illegal business establishments,” said a senior official of the Chennai Corporation.