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.
“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. —