Animal protection groups call for regulating meat markets in the country

Five national organisations urge Central government to shut shops which do not follow food safety guidelines

Five national animal protection organisations on Thursday appealed to the Central government to regulate all meat markets in the country in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. They urged for immediate closure of meats markets and shops which do not follow food safety guidelines.

The organisations, which include People for Animals (PFA) said, “The rise of antimicrobial resistance, along with the emergence of new, highly pathogenic viral strains, have been linked to live animal markets, including pet and wildlife trade and meat production systems”.

“Live animal markets and facilities that confine animals in crowded conditions are fertile hotbeds of zoonotic pathogens,” Gauri Maulekhi of the PFA said adding, “The meat, fish and egg industry in India confines millions of animals in crowded facilities, transports them in similar conditions, and slaughters them in the most unhygienic manner”.

“Despite a clear distinction for operation of such businesses made out in law, meat markets also double as meat shops. Slaughtering animals in markets, in shops where other live animals are confined in close quarters, is a common sight,” the joint letter to the Union Health Minister said.

Apart from the PFA, Humane Society International/India, Mercy for Animals India Foundation, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, and Ahimsa Trust, have collectively appealed to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to work with the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries to regulate intensive animal agriculture.

Public health crisis

They also called for closure of meat markets and shops which do not follow the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India guidelines. Claiming that “often, the meat of diseased and infected animals enter the food market and is invariably consumed by the public,” the animal protection groups said, “Allowing the meat industry to flourish in such uncertain times of public health crisis will have widespread and debilitating ramifications upon public health and safety”.

The letter also called highlighted that no standards are notified for the trait selection, housing and rearing of poultry or swine rearing. “The absence of regulations relating to livestock production lead to intensive, crowded rearing, unnatural diets, antibiotic abuse and various other practices that have lead us into the COVID-19 crisis,” it added.

They also said that a majority of pet shops across the country which operate through live animal markets are largely unregulated and illegal as well. Despite the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (Pet Shop) Rules of 2018, now being in force for nearly two years, barely any of these shops are registered with the State animal welfare boards as is a requisite under the rules, they said.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 12:01:36 PM |

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