The Meat We Consume

An Accra newspaper, The Finder, a few days ago, splashed a disturbing picture on its front page. The picture depicted a man wandering, as it were, on large chunks of beef just delivered by butchers to one of the many markets in the nation�s capital. The butcher, who stood on the chunks of beef, had a sore on one of his feet and it showed vividly in the picture. Nobody who saw the front page picture failed to express disgust at what appears to be the norm with the meat we consume in the nation�s capital. As for the nature of the sore on the butcher�s feet and the possible contagion of whatever infection there is in it, we can only conjecture. We care less about what we consume as food, and this, unfortunately, is the reason for the instances of food poisoning, with sometimes fatal results in this nation. These cases are rarely reported but medical delivery personnel are aware of their occurrences and have had cause to caution consumers about the need to be careful about what they consume. We recall the food poisoning incidence which hit a school after the kids consumed a meal of groundnut soup a few years ago. There are several unreported cases of food poisoning with the victims unaware of what had afflicted them, especially since they largely do not report such cases to medical facilities, preferring to use local roadside chemists. It is only when the conditions become life-threatening that such cases are referred to hospitals and so we are unable to determine the extent of infection with this attitude. The cholera cases which hit the country earlier definitely had to do with the food and the water we consume. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has a department charged with the task of ensuring the wholesomeness of the food, especially the meat we consume. Indeed, many years ago, the Assembly had a vehicle specifically acquired for the movement of meat from the slaughter house to the markets. This is no more and butchers bungle chunks of beef into open trucks on which they embark the market-bound trip. Sometimes, these butchers are seen in the mornings sitting on the meat as their trucks head for the Mallam Atta Market and others. For motorists who ply the Kanda highway, sometimes, they would one day chance upon the spectacle as the butchers head for the markets from the Ashaiman slaughter house. Recently, we were treated to the disturbing disclosure of how the cedi notes we handle are mostly contaminated with disease-bearing bacteria; yet, those who handle them seldom wash their hands after the contact. It is for this reason that we welcome the campaign to encourage the washing of hands by all, especially school children. Hygiene and the food we eat are important issues we should deal with. Unfortunately, the germane authorities appear to have slacked in the enforcement of the relevant bylaws which have all but gathered dust on the shelves. We ask that the AMA take a look at how the meat we consume is handled by the butchers so that the health bill does not rise unduly. Conveying meat in the manner we see butchers do on a daily basis, especially on a major road like the Kanda highway en route to Mallam Atta and other markets, is hygienically unacceptable.