Prince Gbolahan Lawal.

Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal has urged franchisees operating in the red meat value chain in the State to put in place necessary protocols in order to ensure that their meat is wholesome and fit for human consumption.

The Commissioner made the call in Lagos over the weekend when he met with them in furtherance of the series of engagements with stakeholders in the red meat value chain sequel to the State Government adoption of new reforms to sanitize the red meat value chain in the State.

Lawal noted that the engagement with stakeholders was necessary in order to avail them of the new reforms as well as solicited their cooperation and support for the success of the reforms, adding that the main objective of the reform was the promotion of wholesome and hygienically processed beef for the populace.

He stressed that food handling played a vital role in food safety and that every protocols that would ensure that meat is wholesome and fit for human consumption must be put in place, adding that since animal health is human health, “we need to be careful in the ways animals are handled.”

“It is important to note that 60% of pathogens that affect man are from animals, this is referred to as zoonosis. The implication of this is that our association with animals makes us susceptible to certain diseases which can easily be prevented with the right knowledge. The failure to carry out the right action is the cause of several un-explainable deaths and chronic conditions. And since the animal pathogens that affect man through consumption of their products and byproducts, hence proper handling, processing and packaging are very essential,” the Commissioner said.

Lawal pointed out that only certified animals fit for consumption must be allowed to enter the value chain, hence he averred that carcasses procured must have a certificate of health with a meat receipt while supply vendors must not only make full disclosure of clients but must also furnish the veterinary officers of their chosen abattoir a 24-hour notice of intention of slaughter.

According to the Commissioner, supply vendors engaging in sharp practices would henceforth be prosecuted alongside any officer that passed the beef, saying that a public announcement of the incidence will be made, thus blacklisting such vendor while any market where the prevalence of sharp practices are high will be closed immediately.

“A database of suppliers with their clients will henceforth be generated. In addition, a rating/ scoring system would be put in place to ensure only competent hands are in the meat industry and a standard Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for supply merchants would also be generated and there must be 100% compliance,” Lawal said.

The Commissioner added that the database pool would give a picture of the compliance status and readiness of the value chain for the international market, noting that an association of operators with standard operating procedures would not only be the drive for the international market but would also encourage more partnerships in the red meat value chain.

“The export potential for beef is very huge and tapping into the multi-billion dollar market will only be possible with these reforms. Changing the red meat value chain is a collective effort thus all hands must be on deck to revamp the sector. The progress of the industry lies in our hands, let’s all do our part to ensure that only wholesome beef is sold to the populace,” he averred.