Fears over raw meat sold on BCM streets

Expert says it’s a health hazard, calls for public education.

SELLING raw meat on streets is an environmental health problem on the rise in towns across the country. Khanya Bisholo, chairman of the Buffalo City Metro (BCM) branch of the South African Institute of Environmental Health, said they had also picked up on the problem.

“Visibly so BCM has a number of these vendors, with a majority in Mdantsane, King William’s Town and East London.

“It is clear that there is a viable market for it, solely because it is affordable and easily accessible for the person on the street.”

The Daily Dispatch drove around townships in the metro and came across a number of such stalls, with meat hanging in the open and covered in flies.

Although operating from a covered structure as well as an open space, another such place in Scenery Park traded in contravention of the Meat Safety Act, the National Health Act and the Foodstuff and Cosmetics Act.

The business employs a number of people to skin meat of slaughtered animal heads for sale as umnqambulo [meat off a cow’s head], some to cook and others to braai and more to serve the customers.

The owner of the business, who identified himself only as Zotsho, told the Dispatch that the meat was freshly slaughtered from a local farm.

“We don’t know about any regulations, we just sell meat, that’s all,” he said.

Bisholo said it was important to know where these vendors got their meat from, how they transported it and how they stored or displayed it.

He also said it was evident the public was not well informed regarding meat safety.

HEALTH RISK: Selling raw meat on the streets is an environmental health problem that is on the rise across the country Picture: SUPPLIED
HEALTH RISK: Selling raw meat on the streets is an environmental health problem that is on the rise across the country

“Meat is a perishable food, and can be a serious poison if improperly handled, especially if it has blood, which creates favourable conditions for bacterial growth,” he said. The Meat Safety Act states that:

Slaughtering of meat for the purpose of selling or public consumption must be done in an approved abattoir;

Meat is sensitive to temperature changes and must be stored in a 5ºC to 10ºC environment from abattoir to consumer to minimise the growth of bacteria in the meat;

Other laws and regulations concern the hygiene of those handling meat, who have to wear protective clothing such as boots, overalls and headgear. They should also have access to clean water on the premises.

There are also regulations that require the property used to be laid out in specific way and be visibly clean.

“In the case of meat vendors, there’s also a huge risk of environmental contamination which may be cars, dust, coughing people.

“Contamination can also be through flies, poor hygiene, no running water to wash utensils.

“All these factors compromise the quality of meat drastically and thereby pose a serious health threat to the public.

“The shelf-life of meat is dependent on these factors,” Bisholo said.

He said this called for public education for a total mind shift to occur. —


  1. Mr Bisholo says “they have also picked up on the problem”. When did you pick up on the problem Mr Bisholo? People have been selling meat on the streets for many years now. So why haven’t you done anything about it long ago? Authorities sit on their backsides and the world goes by, people do what they want, where they want and how they want and only when danger looms or when someone is actually already half dead or have already died, then they wake up and might actually do something. In the good old days of proper control, there were health inspectors who made sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen but of course with the dawn of “democracy” and the “new” South Africa the white man’s way of doing things was shunned. Hopefully things will change for the better soon because if they get worse, God help us.

  2. When now did you see that these people selling meat on the streets are health hazard Bisholo? Maybe you have forgotten that you have grown up eating this meat! What I know, you just make noise you don’t even put proposal in place to meet the poeple half way!

  3. I dont know when last I enjoyed an article so much. Firstly it is a joy to hear that people are realizing that the “good old days” were not so bad after all.
    Secondly I find it so ridiculous that BCM is turning a blind eye to a siuation that could result in peoples deaths and that Khanya Bisholo states that owner of the business, Zotsho, who employs a number of people to sell this meat, claims that he knows nothing about health regulations. Pleeeeze, it’s not that he doesn’t know, he just doesn’t care about people getting sick.
    This is a typical third world situation . (or is it fourth world?)
    “Real’ states that BCM needs to meet these vendors half way. There is no half way when it comes to hygiene.

    • I want to believe that the Dark ages and the stone age were a lot better than this, there was no democracy in those days, people were on a straight and narrow path which is good.

  4. But that is what we voted for in 1994 – Freedom – to do as we like, make as much noise as we like, so that people cannot sleep at night, break what we want to, kill and rape who we want to and most of all steal what we want. That is what Democracy and Freedom are, did you not know that?