By Orlando Huaman*
I will confine my comments to a story run by your newspaper under the headline “Mobile Slaughter units launched”.
According to the Minister Le Mamea Ropati, M.A.F will have 2 types of consumers. Those that would buy meat processed through the mobile slaughter unit or M.S.U for short (clean meat), and those that kill their animals the traditional way. That goes for fa’alavelave, weddings, and other traditional occasions.
In other words those eating fa’alavelave meat will surely be exposed to 13 animal diseases that are transmitted from animals to man.
Any veterinarian will tell you that. It is very much assumed that those animals that go through the M.S.U will do it after a veterinary have checked that all the animals are healthy, disease –free.
Not doing so will be a shameful imitation to improve the sanitary condition of the meat we eat. Not to mention the presence of a meat inspector, while the M.S.U is in action.
This requirement is mandatory if the M.S.U use is justified.
Apparently, the government doesn’t seem to care much about the health of men, women, and children that will end up eating the meat that is chased and “dragged on the ground”: the fa’alavelave meat.
If the Slaughter and Meat Supply Act 2015 does not address this nonsense, the Act is highly discriminatory and useless. Only in Samoa!
Is the M.O.H going along with these two types of consumers? If so, both are guilty of consumer discrimination. Most of all, it gives room for corruption in the meat trade.
Another important question is: Who is going to monitor our M.S.U meat processed from farm to table?
Another part of the story says that: “A bigger slaughterhouse or abattoir will be set up at Nu’u in three months time.” My point is, why waste money buying two M.S.Us when one solid, firmly located will be erected soon? That does not make sense at all. One solid expense to last many years is the thing to do.
Besides, the farms don’t have the appropriate infrastructure to accommodate those 28 to 36 foot long diesel operated trailers. Also connection to potable water, gas, etc.
M.S.U are justified only in countries where the distance from the animal farms to an abattoir is too far to cause stress and injury to the animals during transportation.
Samoa with a land area of 1,133 sq. miles does not present this problem by a long shot. In fact, the above premise is justified only in countries with huge land area like the U.S.A, Brazil, Argentina, with land areas of 3.6m, 3.2 m and 1.0 m of sq. miles.
The first M.S.U originated in the U.S.A. Why? Simple. Smaller abattoirs were taken over by bigger abattoirs, therefore consolidating killing processes.
In time this originated, the biggest meat processing facility in the world: ConAgra, followed by I.B.F and Excel. Also Tyson Foods. Each have feedlots containing 100 thousands head of cattle, fed on grain only, no Batiki.
So, for one thing, the travel time stress for the animals is non-existent in Samoa. When I worked for an abattoir in Washington, U.S, (also in Peru; on both occasions for 1 year) trailer trucks binging the animals for killing drove all night long (10-13 hours) for the ante-mortem inspection at 6am. No stress, whatsoever. This abattoir processed 900 to 1200 heads of cattle per day. As a meat inspector, I had to inspect heads, lungs, hearts, and livers on a rotating basis for 8 hours, 6 days a week. Clean meat, of course.
Does Samoa have meat inspectors, to be present at the M.S.U when animals are killed, besides the vet? And of course trained butchers with H.A.C.C.P instructions.
Now consider this. How about portable water to wash the blood out of the killed cows? It takes 400 gallons of water for each cow. If it is envisioned to kill 10, at the best, in one day; you do the arithmetic.
Where does the blooded water go? To the farmer’s field? Watch E.P.A! This residue will attract flies, insect, rodents and the usual suspects: the farmer’s maile.
How about toilet facilities for the M.S.U’s workers who will handle the carcass? A proper abattoir would not have these nuisances.
Death by nature is a dirty business. How would you dispose the rumen contents, blood, faeces, hide, horns, legs? Composting, burring, rendering?
A M.S.U which is known as a “kill and chill” facility, typically can’t refrigerate carcasses for longer than a day.
So, where do you take your 16 half carcasses to chill until all are sold?
Obviously, you would not have that problem if we have a solid firm abattoir on the ground (outside the city limits). Would you?
Of course it makes much sense to have a state of the art permanent abattoir than another 15 story white elephant in the works.
An abattoir will create jobs, also derived industries from the killed animals. Also abattoirs get burned. So the insurance companies have to make sure the building have smoke detectors connected to the Fire Department and also more common sense security guards.
*Orlando Huaman. Former Abattoir Meat Inspector for the USDA, Malololelei.