The Veterinary Council of Ghana has introduced the modified Meat Inspection Regulations, 2020 (L.I. 2405), aimed at ensuring meat and meat products are slaughtered and processed under strictly regulated sanitary conditions.
The regulation is also aimed at properly outlining the duties of various regulators and inspectors, their functions as well as mode of execution for their duties.
According to Dr. Kingsley Mickey Aryee, Registrar for the Veterinary Council of Ghana, the first cardinal point of a veterinary officer is to safeguard public health. “So, we were further inspired to come up with this regulation when we saw the Public Health Act.”
According to him, the regulation came after a stakeholder consultation conference had taken place to give all who matter in the area of meat inspection an opportunity to make their input.
“We divided the country into three parts using the old 10 regions; the Northern, Southern and Middle belt sectors. We involved cattle dealers, butchers, the Food and Drugs Authority, Veterinarians, Environmental Health Officers and Police Department so that they know their stake in this document; and if they’re not happy about anything, they point it out.”
The document has also captured and assigned properly the roles and responsibilities of authorities in charge of meat inspections. Dr. Kingsley Mickey Aryee noted that apart from its core mandate, the regulation also finds out who is in charge of the abattoirs, slaughter-houses and slaughter slabs in terms of duty execution.
“The regulation tells us who is supposed to be in the slaughter-house at any time. Hitherto, a butcher could walk in to a slaughter-house and want to be there, which is a bad habit,” he said.
It also clearly outlines the prescribed way of animal preparation. This takes into consideration welfare of the animal as well as equipment to use for slaughtering. It also talks about transportation of the carcass, as well as sanctions that are meted to persons who flaunt these rules.
For an inspector to be qualified, the regulation states the person must be a registered veterinary surgeon or an authorised personnel of the Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry of Agriculture or the Environmental Health Division of a District Assembly.
In terms of slaughter operations, the regulation outlines that “a person who slaughters an animal in a slaughter facility shall undertake the slaughter of the animal in a humane manner so as to prevent needless suffering of the animal; and to ensure improvement in the quality of meat and meat products”.
The regulation again notes that Emergency Slaughter can take place when the animal is affected by a condition that is likely to make the meat unfit for human consumption if the animal is not slaughtered immediately; or when the animal is likely to deteriorate in health if the animal is not slaughtered immediately; or due to traumatic lesions caused by an accident.
In all, the Meat Inspection Regulation touches on permits and certificates, slaughter and ante-mortem inspection, post-mortem inspection, poultry and game inspection, branding as well as treatment and disposal of meat unfit for human consumption.