Beef dealers put on alert over standards

Butcheries in the City of Kigali which do not meet quality standards will soon be closed, government’s livestock and agriculture inspection organs announced yesterday.
A butcher cuts meat at Nyabugogo abattoir. Timothy Kisambira.
A butcher cuts meat at Nyabugogo abattoir. Timothy Kisambira.

Butcheries in the City of Kigali which do not meet quality standards will soon be closed, government’s livestock and agriculture inspection organs announced yesterday.

Facing closure include those which lack proper meat cutting machines, and cold facilities to keep meat safe and those built near inappropriate places, officials said.

The officials from Rwanda Agriculture Livestock Inspection and Certification Services (RALIS) – a department at the Ministry of Agriculture – and the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) announced this on Friday in Kigali, during a one-day meeting on meat hygiene and trade in the City.

They said meat dealers will not be allowed to compromise quality and hygiene standards which put people’s health at risk.

The meeting was attended by officials from districts and sectors of the city, owners of abattoirs, butchers and other stakeholders involved in meat business.

It discussed the current status and needed changes to ensure meat hygiene and compliance with the business regulations.

Overall, 65 per cent of the 114 butcheries evaluated met about 70 per cent of the requirements and can be allowed to work, while the rest (about 40 butcheries) cannot be allowed to operate without meeting the requirements, according to a survey carried out by RALIS in the City of Kigali last year (2017).

The report showed that only about 22 per cent of butcheries had meat cutting machines, while about 77 per cent cut meat on a dried tree trunk, which is not hygienic. 

In 2012, the government agreed with traders to remove the trunk from the butchery, and embrace decent meat cutting machines, said Isidore Nsengimana, inspector of animal products in the ministry.

“Such wood is no longer allowed in butcheries,” Nsengimana said.

However, butchery owners argue that the machines used to chop meat are expensive. One machine costs at least Rwf1.2 million.

Leonidas Ntawizera, a meat dealer from Jabana Sector in Gasabo District said in enforcing the regulations authorities should mind about small butcheries which were put in place to help local communities easily access meat.

“For instance in Nyacyonga Market, there is a small butchery which sells on average beef for one cow per day to serve market goers. The requirements being set are good, but such a machine is expensive. They (government) should consider the importance of such butchery, and the means of the people,” he said.

However, Felix Bayavuge, a veterinary officer in Nyarugenge District said meat that does not meet standards should not be allowed on the market as it poses fatal risks to consumers’ health.

The communication officer at Rwanda association for the protection of consumers’ rights (ADECOR) Gad Ngororano told Saturday Times that enforcing standards was in order.

“We request meat traders to have appropriate places where meat will be kept safely. Foods should be handled with caution to avoid harming people’s lives,” he said.

More findings from the assessment

The assessment was carried out on about 114 butcheries last year.

It also found out that 7.4 per cent of butcheries were built in inappropriate places such as near hair salons, dusty places, near water drainages, and landfills.

Such butcheries not meeting requirements should be closed, said Nsengimana, the inspector.

At least 34 per cent of the butcheries were found to be selling meat without known origin and certification.

“Under the law, such meat [slaughtered] from the bush should be impounded and buried but the owner encounters loss. Therefore, that is why we are carrying out awareness so that they comply with standards to avoid facing inspection penalties,” Nsengimana said.

Only over 50 per cent of the butcheries had automatic scales; while 94.7 per cent of them had well-functioning refrigerators to keep meat.

RALIS Director General, Beatrice Uwumukiza said hygiene standards have to be maintained across the whole value chain.

Anicet Muriro, the in-charge of Zamunaka Ubuziranenge, - a programme intended to help businesses especially SMEs meet quality standards, under the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) said that the body seeks to support meat dealers to fulfill required standards so that even hotels do not continue to import meat.

Medical examination for communicable diseases wanting

About having medical examination for communicable diseases, Nsengimana said the survey revealed that about 28 per cent had medical certificates indicating that they were free from communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, and flu.

Statistics from Rwanda Agriculture Board show that Rwanda’s overall meat production grew from about 86,000 tonnes in 2015 to about 116,000 tonnes against a target of 230,000 tonnes by 2018.