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Food Safety: Council wants more veterinarians in abattoirs

The Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN) on Monday in Abuja, appealed to state governments to engage the services of more veterinarians in abattoirs across the country for healthier meat consumption.

The Acting Registrar of the Council, Dr Fadipe Oladotun, made the appeal in an interview. He lamented over the dearth of qualified veterinarians in many abattoirs across the country.

Oladotun stressed on the increased services of veterinarians in abattoirs as critical to ensuring food safety.

He described the call as part of the council’s efforts to ensure that only healthy animals and their bye products enter food supply chain to guarantee food safety for the population.

Oladotun decried the deplorable state of abattoirs in the country and urged states governments to embrace international standard in building abattoirs.

“Currently, the deplorable state of abattoirs in the country calls for great concern but the council is putting measures in place to ensure that sanity operates in our abattoirs.

“As a regulatory body we are relating with state directorate for veterinary services to ensure that compliance is carried out.

“Before any animal is released into the market for consumption, the first thing that should be done is anti-mortem inspection to check and be sure those animals are wholesome.

“We are also supposed to carry out post mortem inspection immediately those animals are slaughtered and until a veterinarian stamps the animal, it is not supposed to be taken to the market.

“But what is hampering us from performing our duties into full capacity is the lack of recruitment of veterinary personnel in our various abattoirs.

“So, you have so many abattoirs that don’t even have a veterinarian.

“A state that easily comes to mind is Rivers state in the whole of the employment in Rivers state we are informed that they have just two veterinarians.

“How can two veterinarians handle the clinic, the office and also handle the abattoir. This to me is highly unacceptable and it is just one out of so many others.

Oladotun urged governments to do more by recruiting veterinarians that have been trained so that the animals that are being released into the market are animals that are perfectly health.

“When you take care of these animals, you are taking care of human beings because veterinarians are bridging the gap between the animals and human.

“So, if we are able to cut the circle of diseases within the animal population it will not get to the human population.

“And that is why as veterinarians we are calling on the government to engage the service of competent veterinarians in ensuring that our foods are being secured,’’ Oladotun said.

While stressing the importance of food safety in Nigeria, he said “we are in the era of COVID-19 and everybody is afraid of one thing or the other because of the impact of this disease.

“And if we don’t secure our food and ensure that the food that we get is wholesome, COVID-19 will be dealing with us from one side and diseases from animals will be dealing with us from another side.

“So, it is important that we look in the direction of food safety so that the food we consume will be the food we are proud of.

“This can only be done when we have the technical know-how, and engage people who are competent enough to handle the abattoirs,’’ he added. 

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