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Illegal Meat Trade in Wad Madani: Negligence and Corruption

11-27-2015, 05:06 AM
Sudan Democracy First Group
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Illegal Meat Trade in Wad Madani: Negligence and Corruption

    05:06 AM Nov, 27 2015

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    Red meat, especially beef and lamb, is an essential part of the Sudanese food culture, which made it widely purchased despite its high price compared with the low income per capita in Sudan. For instance, the daily consumption of red meat in Wad Madani city (the topic of this paper) is estimated at 14285 kg, 79% of which is beef, and 21% lamb, according to an official in the Wad Madani Butchers’ Union.

    Before reaching the end consumer, this meat should necessarily undergo numerous checks and procedures provided for in the Meat Inspection Law of 1997 issued by the Gezira State Legislative Council. This law prohibits in Article 4(1) slaughtering animals for meat intended for consumers in any other place apart from the licensed slaughterhouses. Article 4 also prohibits slaughtering female animals save for specific exceptions. The same law prohibits, in Article 5, selling meat without veterinary inspection and a stamp to show that slaughtering had been carried out in licensed slaughterhouses. The same law provides for punishments and penalties not exceeding a one-year imprisonment in addition to a fine decided by the judge as well as destroying the illegally slaughtered mean for breaching any of its articles.

    Despite the penalties and punishments provided for in the Meat Inspection Law of 1997, SDFG spotted a relevant corrupting situation in Wad Madani. Some butcheries tend to slaughter outside the licensed slaughterhouses and sell this meat without having it inspected and examined by veterinary surgeons and technicians. This illegal meat trade is commonly referred to in Sudan as keeri, i.e. meat that is illegally slaughtered and, therefore, illegally sold to consumers. Such slaughter usually takes place in private shops that are not usually investigated by the veterinary authorities, either due to underacting sometimes as well as corruption of those who work for the veterinary authority in charge of butcheries and restaurants inspection.

    Illegally slaughtered meat is sold at many butcheries in Wad Madani, where SDFG field tours spotted 7 butcheries in different areas of the city. SDFG team has also corroborated this situation by information received from credible sources. Moreover, SDFG was also aware of illegal slaughter in villages nearby.
    It is worth mentioning here that Wad Madani Locality has one slaughterhouse as well as one slaughtering terrace in Fadasi, a village to the north of Wad Madani, in addition to three other areas for surface slaughter. These are supervised by the veterinary authorities in a number of villages to the east of the river Nile, all of which are within the locality of Wad Madani.

    To investigate this corrupting situation, SDFG talked to one of those involved in the illegal meat trade, who owns a well-known shop, which usually attracts considerable customers. He is also known for carrying out illegal slaughters in a place nearby his shop. We asked him as to the reason why he does not deal with the licensed slaughterhouse and as to how he knows whether or not the slaughtered animals, which are usually not examined by the veterinary authorities, were not sick. He hesitated before answering our questions, but he eventually agreed to answer them on condition of anonymity, and also asked us not to mention the location of his store. He added further that he usually slaughters healthy animals and never slaughters females. He also said some of his customers were veterinary surgeons and police officers, all of whom, as he confirmed, know that he usually slaughters near his store, not in the licensed slaughterhouse. Despite this, he added, they prefer to buy his meat because of its high quality.

    He also said that slaughterhouses waste considerable time and levy hefty charges without providing any tangible services in exchange for these charges. Sanitary and hygiene in the licensed slaughterhouses, he said, were very poor, and are full of flies and astray dogs. Sanitary and hygiene of the places where he usually slaughters, he claimed, were much better compared with the sanitary situation in the licensed slaughterhouses. He also added that animals and meat in the licensed slaughterhouses were not usually subjected to proper veterinary examination, but, rather, to a only quick check and were never properly examined in laboratories. He further claimed that he himself could do the kind of checks carried out at the slaughterhouses. He also said he is experienced in spotting the meat of slaughtered sick animals and destroy it. Inspection by the veterinary authorities is almost non-existent, he claimed.

    Moreover, he revealed that he has good relations with those who were in charge of veterinary inspections, most of whom, as he claimed, are customers to whom he sells meat for a nominal price, and sometimes give them meat free of charge when they are financially broke. He also claimed that the reason behind selling his meat for a price lower than that charged by other butcheries is due to the lower cost of production, i.e. no fees to be paid towards using the slaughterhouse nor the veterinary inspection or the slaughterhouse workers or the cost of transport from the slaughterhouse to his store. He said he sells the kilogram of beef for 45 SDG and the boneless meat for 55 SDG, while meat slaughtered at the licensed slaughterhouse is usually sold at the price of 50 SDG for beef and 60 SDG for boneless meat, which he said were of a lower quality compared to his meat. He sells the kilogram of lam for 65 SDG compared with 70 SDG for the kilogram of lamb slaughtered at the licensed slaughterhouse.

    The slaughterhouse of the Wad Madani Locality charges 40 SDG for each head of cattle and 27 SDG for each head of sheep slaughtered. The charges required by the slaughterhouse workers vary according to what is usually agreed between them and each butcher. For instance, the charges are usually lower if the butcher agrees to give those workers the intestines or the feet. However, the average charges to be paid to the slaughterhouse workers are 50 SDG for each head of slaughtered cattle and 20 SDG for each head of slaughtered sheep. Transport from the slaughterhouse to the butcher’s varies according to the distance between the slaughterhouse and the butcher’s; however, transporting one slaughtered cattle costs 40 SDG, and a slaughtered sheep 15 SDG.

    A.E. is a trader who sells high quality beef in his house, which is next door to his shop. The quality of the meat he sells is much better than that of the cattle slaughtered at the slaughterhouse, which wholesale traders consider an important selling point, as they slaughter cows that are comparatively older, and whose meat is distributed to retailers, as older cows weigh heavier compared with younger cattle. Moreover, the slaughterhouse levies its charges of the basis of the ######### of cattle slaughtered rather than on how much each slaughtered cow weighs. He also added that slaughterhouses in the Gezira state do not work on Saturdays and Wednesdays, as per a decision issued decades ago by the Numeiri regime, but is still valid. Consequently, the meat sold on these two days is chilled meat, whereas many customers prefer freshly meat, which is only available on Saturdays and Wednesdays from those traders who deal in illegally slaughtered meat. He also added that he usually slaughters health animals and never slaughters females in order to keep his customers. He and his family, he said, consume this same meat. Regarding health of the slaughtered animals, he said he were experienced in distinguishing good from bad meat and destroy the latter. He also added that the veterinary examination at the slaughterhouses is only sketchy, and intended essentially to charge the formally enforced fees.

    Responding to our question about the veterinary inspection in connection to illegally slaughtered meat, he laughed and said sarcastically that the last veterinary inspection was carried out in 2007 following the outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in some Sudanese cities and towns, which scared many people away from buying meat. He said the health and veterinary authorities had then warned against eating meat not slaughtered in the licensed slaughterhouses. He said the veterinary and health authorities’ officials who were in charge of inspecting the butcheries came to his shop and other shops known for selling illegally slaughtered meat, but they used to come to these shops ‘individually like beggars’, as he described them, and often got meat either free of charge or for very low prices.

    A veterinary technician at the Wad Madani Locality slaughterhouse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, asserted that field meat inspection has stopped a long time ago. He also said that work of the veterinary authorities is confined to examining animals before slaughter, examining meat after slaughter, and labelling the inspected meat with the veterinary authorities stamp. He revealed that the veterinary inspection usually carried out is superficial with no laboratory examination involved; however, the veterinary authorities, he said, have good experience in spotting meat unfit for human consumption, and they destroy considerable infected meat every day. They often destroy intestines and livers, as they are often prone to infections. As for the common cases, he said, there are different warm types, especially the tapeworm taenia, and in some cases they do destroy the whole slaughtered animal, particularly in the case of infection with hyperbilirubinemia, which covers meat with a yellow-colour layer.

    He further added that the lack of veterinary inspection was due to the Wad Madani Locality’s lack of financial and human resources. He did not deny the claims of some butchers who say he and some of his colleagues receive privileges from traders who sell illegally slaughtered meat. However, he said that what they receive is not a bribe, as it is the traders who voluntarily treat them with these privileges; they do not ask for them nor do they bargain, he said. He also explained that these privileges do not exceed a kilogram of meat free of charge, or for half the price because of what he described as ‘the good relations with those traders, who appreciate their difficult living conditions and low wages.’

    This corrupting situation could result in many consequences, as meat not inspected by the veterinary authorities would cause serious diseases that could transmit from animals to humans. A veterinary surgeon, who is a fodder specialist, said to SDFG that there were numerous diseases that could infect humans as a result of meat consumption, e.g. bacterial diseases resulting from meat consumption, such as bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis (Maltese Fever), anthrax, salmonella, and septic sore throat.
    He also said there were many other bacterial diseases that could infect humans because of meat consumption, such as the Rift Valley fever, foot-and-mouth disease, hepatitis E, as well as other viral disease. He said that the most transmitted by means of meat from to humans are worms which infect the digestive system, such as angiostrongylus worms and the tapeworm taenia, which infects humans with anemia, malnutrition, and weight loss.

    As for what the butchers said about the veterinary inspection, which they described as superficial, and that they could do it themselves, the veterinary surgeon that SDFG interviewed said the external veterinary check on meat should be carried out in accordance the a scientific study and with a proper professional experience in veterinary. A butcher cannot be as experienced and professional as a veterinary surgeon who has a university degree in this this profession.

    This corrupting situation had also resulted in the state losing considerable revenues, i.e. the fees and charges levied on slaughter according to the law and regulations. Moreover, illegal slaughter would make the authorities unable to know the exact figures and statistics of the slaughtered animals across the locality, state, and the whole country.

    Illegal slaughter will also make it difficult to control the slaughter of female animals, as provided for in the Meat Inspection Law. In addition, the reduced price of illegally slaughtered meat due to the slaughterhouse, veterinary inspection, labour, and transport fees not being charged is an unethical competition between the law-abiding butcheries and those who break the relevant laws and regulations.

    The increasing trade of illegally slaughtered meat and failure to curb it would result in some other more dangerous consequences, as it might lead to slaughtering animals religiously forbidden or inedible, such as dogs and donkeys. Donkey meat, for instance, is difficult to distinguish from beef unless properly and professionally examined, said Prof. A. R. Yousuf, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kafr Al Sheikh University (Elaph electronic newspaper, 23 February 2013). A Wad Madani restaurant was caught in April 2013 selling a locally popular kind of grilled meat called agashe’ made of dogs meat.

    This corrupting situation is highly risky and needs to be addressed by means of collective efforts. However, the most important efforts in this context is that of the state, as it is the state that issues the laws as well as controls related to peoples’ health and should provide all the necessary means to ensure the application of these laws. The state’s local authorities should carry out daily inspection tours to check on butcheries and restaurants for trading and using illegally slaughtered meat and try all those who breach of the relevant laws. What is often said about the local authorities not having the necessary means to curb the illegal meat trade is not correct, as the vehicles and policemen of these authorities chase street vendors, tea ladies, and hookah (shisha) cafes. Moreover, the vehicles and personnel of these authorities are often in the move inside nieghbourhoods closing down shops that do not obtain the necessary license issued by the locality.

    It is obvious that the problem does not lie in the authorities lacking the necessary means to control illegally slaughtered meat, but is related to the general indifference towards the risks of consuming illegally slaughtered meat. The problem also lies in the Sudanese style of life, where habits dominate the law, which provides for banning slaughter outside the licensed slaughterhouses. The state-level laws provide for total ban on slaughtering animals outside the licensed slaughterhouses, including slaughters for social occasions and religious rites, but slaughtering animals in the licensed slaughterhouses is confined only to meat for human consumption.

    The state should develop and clean the present working licensed slaughterhouse and open new ones based on the relevant international standards, instead of the present surface and terraces slaughter. The authorities should also carry out the necessary measures to rid these slaughterhouses of dirt, flies, and astray dogs. Providing a clean environment is one of the most important factors to resist this corrupting situation.

    The state should also develop the Animal Resources sector, which is one of the most important economic sectors in the country, by capacity building and training of veterinary surgeons and technicians and providing them with the necessary and modern equipment and laboratories needed to carry out their duties in the most appropriate way.

    All the media should also highlight this corrupting situation and inform the people about the health risks of consuming illegally slaughtered meat, the economy, and the future of animal resources in the Sudan. The media should also explain health risks that could people are prone to as result of diseases transmitted from animal to humans by means of infected meat. Moreover, the media should urge the state to assume its duties as to protecting the people and ensuring proper application of the laws issued by the legislative authority.

    The people, on their part, should not buy meat of any illegally slaughtered animals, and they should report butcheries and restaurants involved in trading and using illegally slaughtered meat to the competent authorities. Boycotting is one of the most effective means of resisting this corrupting situation. Civils servants, whose jobs are related in a way or another with this corrupting situation, should also address this issue with concern and seriousness, as their job-related integrity requires dealing with it in accordance with the laws instead of resorting to the habits at the expense of the rule of law. The absence of the rule of law in this respect resulted in butchers publicly bragging about breaking the law as well as boasting about having customers who are police officers and veterinary surgeons, and who are fully aware that the meat they buy is illegally slaughtered.



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