Local Gov't 2016 : Clarendon meat safe

November 02, 2016
Errol Cole washes his hands as he prepares meat for delivery.
Cole's slaughterhouse.

The Clarendon Health Department has expressed satisfaction with the overall state of the abattoirs in the parish.

The parish has two official facilities and several slaughterhouses. The parish health department said the two official facilities - Juici Patties and the Ebony Park HEART/NTA - are operating satisfactorily. The larger facilities are classified as abattoirs and the smaller and more private ones are referred to as slaughterhouses.

"Abattoirs are built to certain specifications and must be maintained in accordance with public health sanitation requirements. Butchers are required to have a licence to trade and must be certified food handlers. Pertinent and up-to-date record keeping as well as an approved location for vending meat are specifications that must be adhered to," said Dr Kimberly Scarlett Campbell, medical officer of health for Clarendon.

Licensed butcher Errol Cole, who operates one of the slaughterhouses out of Summerfield, told THE STAR he cannot afford to slip up once or he could risk losing his permit. Cole who has been at the location for eight years and is the sole licensed butcher in the community, said it is mandatory that he makes a report to the police as well as to notify a public health inspector, who will need to inspect the meat and certify it fit for human consumption.

"If mi no call the inspector mi can lose mi licence because they have to make sure the meat is safe for people to eat." He admits that there are times he feels he is getting too much of a hard time from the inspectors, but ruefully agrees he is happy for their vigilance, as it means consumers will be receiving meat that is safe for consumption. Cole said to properly operate a slaughterhouse, he must ensure there is clean water, handwashing facilities, and an appropriate area to discard waste. Dr Campbell also pointed out that if 'food animals' are slaughtered in less than satisfactory conditions, then the public health department has the authority to confiscate or condemn the meat.

"If an inspector is called to inspect meat and it's not satisfactory, we also have the right to discard it because we don't want persons to get sick. Animals can catch diseases and if eaten, it can be passed on to humans," she informed. Dr Campbell shared several tips on what the local authorities can do to improve the state of abattoirs in the parish.

"Advocate for policy changes to meet the challenges and changes in the industry, establish centralised abattoirs throughout the parish instead of having multiple slaughterhouses and maintain annual workshops and training seminars for abattoirs and slaughterhouse workers. The utilisation of government free-to-air time slots for public-health promotion on matters of public-health significance is a good way to go."

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