Developing countries are faced with a high incidence of food poisoning outbreaks related to the consumption of meat, with obvious economic consequences. During informal slaughter of animals the threat of food poisoning or transfer of lethal zoonoses such as anthrax, is particularly intense. In 1972 the government legislated “The Abattoir Regulation - Legal Notice No. 27 of 1972”, which mandates slaughtering of animals and meat inspection and control (Government Gazette, 1972). Before that there was no official meat inspection done in the country. Since that time, the legislation has not been updated. The only abattoir was closed in 2003; the country thus has no formal abattoir. Meat is imported and also informally slaughtered and sold illegally. This study investigated the risk of food-poisoning and zoonoses related to the sale of meat slaughtered informally. It included the extent of the illegal and informal market. In Lesotho, informal slaughter for home consumption is legal but the meat may not be sold (Kingdom of Lesotho, 1972). The methods used in this study included investigation of the number and location of outlets for informally slaughtered meat in Lesotho. Samples of meat were taken both at informal markets and from imported meat sold at commercial supermarkets. Multistage random sampling was used where the first stage was the district and the second stage was the butcher shops. As a control, samples of legally slaughtered inspected meat were taken from a supermarket in South Africa. These samples were sent for bacteriological examination which included coliform counts and isolation of possible pathogens. It was found that 40 informal butcheries existed that were selling mainly illegal meat as well as imported legally slaughtered meat. In addition, the commercial supermarkets (n=4) were selling legally imported meat. Geographical coordinates were taken of the existing informal markets and the number of informal butcheries in those markets. This was recorded as a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) map. This map will be used by the veterinary public health and epidemiology sections of Lesotho to monitor informal sales in future, in order to improve the quality of meat sold to Lesotho citizens and prevent food-poisoning by meat products. Samples of meat from local informal butchers (n=100) that were submitted for bacteriological culture (n=100) showed that 63% had coliform counts that were unacceptably high and indicated poor meat hygiene. In comparison, imported meat obtained from animals slaughtered at registered abattoirs in South Africa and transported to supermarkets in Lesotho, had acceptable levels (Total plate count of > 5) It was thus concluded that there is an urgent need for improvement in slaughter and meat inspection methods in both rural and urban areas of Lesotho. The state (both central and local Government) has an important role to play in human and animal health and food safety in the country and strategies must be developed for this. These will include training of veterinary and extension staff as well as butchers, in both the formal and informal markets, on slaughtering procedures and sanitation. In addition, they should facilitate the construction and rehabilitation/upgrading of the existing slaughter slabs in both rural and urban areas of the country, focusing on the main towns not to affect the tourism industry. Lastly, an emphasis should be placed on review of the abattoir regulations, implementation of policies on slaughter procedures and products those that are fit for human consumption, as a way of preventing meat-borne zoonotic diseases, to reduce risks of infection to consumers and to protect meat handlers. Careless handling of waste such as offal, blood and effluent during slaughter can also result in zoonoses and environmental degradation and this should also be addressed. Copyright
Dissertation (MSc (Veterinary Science))--University of Pretoria, 2010.