Meat gives food for thought

Meat gives food for thought

Unhygienic Practices

Meat gives food  for thought

Flies and rats feast on chopped pieces of meat that lie limp on the dirty trays, waiting to be bought by unsuspecting and altogether indifferent customers in Russell Market. 

Large carcasses are hung outside shops, exposed to the dust. This unsightly and unhygienic scene can be seen in almost every meat and poultry shop and stall across the City. 

In what can be seen as a step forward, the Food Commissioner has announced that by August 4, this year, all meat and poultry stalls must have glass enclosures or else they will be penalised. 

According to the Food Safety and Stands Act, 2006, the display of meat in unhygienic conditions and in the open is prohibited. 

“People who sell the whole animal have to keep a glass container. They have to keep the shop hygienic to at least some percent,” says SN Nanjundaiah, the chief food analyst, Public Health Institute (PHI). 

The reason the authorities have finally acted is because, “Different animals like dogs, foxes, pigs and rats come and eat where they dispose off the meat. It shouldn’t be like that,” says Nanjundaiah. 

He says pictures of all the meat and poultry shops were taken without their knowing and now they are being asked to revamp. “They should build slopes in their shops and keep them clean. The roads are  dirty and there is much pollution coming in, so they should keep it a little clean at least,” he says. 

According to Umesh, who works in a chicken stall in Russell Market, it will cost them about Rs 1.5 lakh to make the necessary modifications. “This is an old building, so it will cost us more. We will borrow from our friends or take a loan but we will make the changes,” he says. 

Nanjundaiah says if they want they can ask for funds and government might consider it. “But glasses aren’t that expensive,” he says. 

It was at the outlet in Russell Market that Metrolife found a cat being fed chicken meat inside the store. A variety of household pets regularly visit their shop. 

Umesh says the dogs stay outside the shop, as he pets a fattened dog with the same hands that gives his customers their meat. 

The butchers were covered in blood from dicing over two dozen chickens in a day with their bare hands — the same hands they use to scoop up chicken droppings with. 

There are supposed to be ‘health inspectors’ for every ward but as long as the meat being served is not rotten, the shops pass the test. 

It is not a surprise since the BBMP slaughterhouse on Tannery Road is in the same condition. 

“We are understaffed at the moment, the deputy director is not there to supervise anything. The meat stays there for only 10 to 15 minutes while it is slaughtered and cut; then it is taken to the various outlets around the City,” says Dr Kantharaj, the doctor-in-charge of the slaughterhouse. But in that time span, hoards of flies infest the meat and rats scurry across the bloodied ground. 

Customers have no choice but to go to these meat shops. “I go only when they are cutting the meat fresh. I never take the pieces that are kept aside. These people won’t understand till they are fined a few times that they need to maintain their shops neatly,” says Kumar, a resident of Shivajinagar. 

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