DANGER: Cape Coast Butchers’ singes meat with car tyres


Regardless of flinty warnings by Health Experts for Butchers to desist from using car tyres for singeing meat, the practice continues unabated at the Cape Coast slaughterhouse.

The daily singeing of meat with car tyres among other plastic substances introduces different contaminants into their meat, thereby rendering it unsafe for human consumption.

All males’ butchers numbering over 30 supply quantities of meat to more than 70,000 residents in the metropolis and other adjoining districts in the Central and parts of Western Regions.

The dark-thick smoke releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) into the environment jeopardizing the health of all.

The unhealthy practice possesses a serious public health risk to the consuming public, butchers, and inhabitants living around facility such places.

Visits by the Journalist to the facility confirmed the unhealthy practice as the green leaves of the trees, weeds and buildings at the site had turned a dark brown with dark billows of thick smoke hovering all over.

Sadly, due to the unhygienic practices at the facility coupled with its proximity to the main receptacle drain and stinking refuse dump with a deep pungent smell, it gave a sharp sensation inviting all to feast.

In a sharp competition were scores of roaring ants, mouse, cockroaches’ flies of varying sizes and colors and dogs fed on cascades like hungry lions ready to devour.

Also, due to lack of water at the facility, the butchers, had resorted to the use of raw seawater for dressing meat at the same place where the community’s main drain with all of its receptacles empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Additionally, as improvise, the butchers had cemented a ten-meter floor as the slaughtering and butchering grounds where the meat is sliced.- with the untreated dirty water mixed with chemicals, detergents, blood among others channeled into the Atlantic ocean – the very water they used to dress the animals.

Reacting to the awful state of the current slaughterhouse and the unhygienic conditions, Mr Moses Musa, Head of the butchers described the use of car tyres for singeing meat as unhealthy but economical and easy.

“We prefer using tyres for singeing meat instead of firewood or gas. We do not have gas facilities here, besides firewood is expensive and scarce.

“Care tyres are affordable and more efficient, produces more flame with less heat and more effective in selectively burning off the fur from the animal carcass,” he explained.

Mr Musa added that the cost of firewood had increased lately amidst global environmental concerns on the rate of rapid deforestation and its impact, hence the use of scrap tyres instead of gas or firewood.

“This method of preparing meat is most popular that had to be in use for ages. We are not the only slaughterhouse using care tyres, several others are doing the same and, in some homes, and eateries across the country.”

Mr Musa however, called on the Assembly to commit resources into retrofitting a completed multi-purpose abattoir with the state-of-the-art facilities near the current slaughterhouse that had remained closed for three years.

He, expressed their readiness to relocate to the new facility but pointed out some drawbacks – lack of accessible water and electricity, inspection tables, detergents and other cleaning chemicals to ensure the meat was of high-quality standards had prevented them using the new facility.

Also there also were improper waste disposal systems, gas location, small entrance, unhygienic floor, cowshed, a ranche, meet hook and noted that “our views (butchers) were not considered during the construction. The building needs retrofitting before it can be used else it will be remained closed forever.”

According to him, “we have no option than to operate in this sorry environment, but we are doing our best to maintain good personal hygiene and mandated hygienic standards.”

Health implications

Some butchers who pleaded anonymity told the Journalist the use of tyres for singeing meat was unhealthy and of dire health repercussions, yet that was the only job they could do.

They expressed concerns about experiencing symptoms of the cancerous smoke including cough, shortness of breath, hoarseness, headache, and acute mental status changes.

“Sometimes, we experience hoarseness or noisy breathing and swelling. Our eyes often become red and irritated from the smoke. Some of us often get skin diseases and pale to bluish to cherry red as soot in the nostrils or throat which gave a clue as to the degree of smoke inhalation.”

They appealed to the Assembly to open for use the closed ultra-modern abattoir and procure a cold van to help distribute some of their products to their customers to reduce the difficulty they go through in a bid to get hygienically prepared and wholesome meat to the makers.

Irrespective of their wired challenges, the butchers expressed their commitment to maintaining standards and personal hygiene to prevent contamination of meat.

Officials of the Municipal Environmental Office and Veterinary Department who were sightEd at the slaughterhouse pledged to continue to ensure proper supervisory role under the circumstance to ensure the meat from the facility was healthy for public use.

“We work with them always to ensure hygienic standards are maintained though it is not the best of standards we wish for, the officials said and indicated that: “We also eat some of the meat so we won’t do anything to affect public health and sanity.”

However, in an interview with Mr Ernest Arthur, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), he stated that the Assembly was sourcing for funds to complete the floor among others to make the new ultra-modern abattoir useable.

In the meantime, he advised the butcher to stick to best practices and disengage from unhealthy practices to prevent the outbreak of disease.

Mr Idrisu Saani, the Municipal Environmental Health Officer confirmed his knowledge of the unhygienic practice but assured that they were in talks with the butchers to adhere to sound environmental practices and personal hygiene to ensure their processed meat was safe for consumption.

Again, he assured that the Assembly had initiated moves to ensure that the facility was retrofitted for use by butchers.


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