Armed with a study showing that more than half of the 1,100 abattoirs set up across the island are operating illegally, Agriculture Minister Christopher Tufton wants to establish centralised slaughter houses to safeguard against praedial larceny and unhealthy practices.
The study, commissioned by Tufton last year, has revealed that just under 500 abattoirs are registered by the Ministry of Health.
"What are we doing with 1,100 slaughter houses, and how do we know what gets slaughtered in these slaughter houses?" questioned Tufton, who said he was advised that a country the size of Jamaica does not need more than five per cent of that amount.
His vision for centralised slaughter facilities, he said, includes having veterinary services to check not only on the health of animals, but to allow for traceability of livestock.
Both those services, he told the Sunday Observer, are critical in order to ensure health and safety for consumers.
Last Wednesday, Tufton, in an address to the Kiwanis Club of West St Andrew's 30th anniversary dinner meeting at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston, announced that his ministry will soon begin a collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the veterinary services to inspect retailers in order to determine the source of some meats for sale.
"The system must allow for the traceability, both for health purposes and to control praedial larceny," he reiterated.
He said if meat is going into the trade it should be slaughtered in an approved abattoir that has the presence of veterinary services to check not only for health of animals but to allow for traceability of the foods for other purposes such as illegal activities.
The agriculture minister said $23 million has been allocated this year to establish a passport system for livestock which will be required to be registered and given an identification number.
"If you have a cow or goat for commercial purpose it has to be registered, and if it is to be sold it has to be accompanied by identification which speaks to its origin," Tufton said.
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