By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
Major food vendors who sell meat in Lagos State are to henceforth submit a Veterinary Health Certificate for Trade of Meat to inspecting veterinary personnel of the State Government.
The veterinary officials will then confirm through the certificates if the meat carcasses have been duly slaughtered under hygienic conditions.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal who disclosed this in Lagos over the weekend noted that this policy apart from being part of new strategies the State Government is adopting that are aimed at sanitizing the meat value chain in the State is also in conformity with Section 4 of the Cap M3 Meat Inspection Law of Lagos State and the 4th Schedule (Regulation 33) of the Law.
Lawal added that the policy change was informed by reports about the terrible state of sanitary affairs at some abattoirs in the State and the subsequent embarrassment this potentially holds for the image of the State and confidence in the meat value chain.
The Commissioner explained that Veterinary Divisional Heads have also been mandated to identify meat vending outlets that are major distributors and retailers of meat within their respective divisions and issue letters of notice containing a moratorium to the distributors and retailers on the need for them to change their meat supply protocol to reflect the new policy.
“We have mandated our Veterinary Officers to do a periodic and systematic inspection of these facilities within their jurisdiction as such they must ensure that meat emanating from their divisions which must come from mechanized facilities are issued the Veterinary Health Certificate for Trade of Meat”, he opined
The Commissioner warned that any officer who breaches the code by signing off on carcasses and other by products of meat that are slaughtered from any facilities other than government approved abattoir facilities would be guilty of gross misconduct and as such would be sanctioned accordingly and prosecuted if need be.
He similarly urged food vendors not to breach the code by purchasing meat that was not duly inspected or that does not come with the legal certificates adding that such a food vendor would not only be guilty of an offence but such a facility would also be shut down.
“Any food vendor who breaches this code by purchasing meat that was not duly inspected or that does not come with the legal certificates will be guilty of an offence and be liable to be shut down,” Lawal averred.
He added that all heads of approved abattoirs in the State that do not posses clean hygienic mechanized facilities cannot issue the Veterinary Health Certificate for Trade of Meat stressing that they must henceforth refer slaughtering for the purpose of supply to such mechanized facilities.
“It is our hope that a strict adherence by the concerned stakeholders and implementation by our Veterinary Officers of this policy would drive slaughtering activities towards more hygienic facilities”, the Commissioner noted.
The Commissioner however added that a stakeholders meeting of the meat value chain would soon be convened in order to have their buy-in on the new reforms before its full implementation.
He further said that a sensitization exercise of members of the public would also be fully embarked upon in order to ensure the success of the policy change.