Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety

Information at a Glance

Petuania Danti
Tel:021 808 5273
E-mail:petuaniad@elsenburg.com
Fax:021 808 5274

All meat consumers have the right of access to safe meat from known approved sources. The sub-directorate: Veterinary Public Health therefore facilitate the supply of healthy food of animal origin to the consumer by promoting household food security with regard to animal products and enforcing the Meat Safety Act (Act 40/2000) & Regulations, and thus improving public health and enhancing quality of life.

Veterinary Public Health

 

JOB PURPOSE

All meat consumers have the right of access to safe meat from known approved sources. The sub-directorate: Veterinary Public Health therefore facilitate the supply of healthy food of animal origin to the consumer by promoting household food security with regard to animal products and enforcing the Meat Safety Act (Act 40/2000) & Regulations, and thus improving public health and enhancing quality of life.

Veterinary Public Health Officers and State Veterinarians working in the sub-directorate Veterinary Public Health, are responsible for the following functions:

CORE FUNCTIONS:

FOODSAFETY AWARENESS:

  • Participate in exhibitions and farmers/community information days throughout the province; with emphasis on Food Safety and Zoonotic diseases.
  • Provide training, technical assistance and health education to communities on food safety; thus empowering them to make an informed choice when consuming meat.
  • Promote abattoir hygiene awareness to meat inspection staff, slaughter personnel, quality control officers and owners, through training.
  • Liaise with various departments, non-governmental organizations and other role-players to promote and implement meat safety awareness programs.

LAW ENFORCEMENT:

  • Investigate and control illegal slaughtering in collaboration with the relevant authorities and stakeholders (Police Stock Theft Unit, Environmental Health, SPCA etc.); if necessary combating the said violation via prosecution of the perpetrators by a court of law.
  • Investigate and control illegal imports; the illegal transport of animals and animal products in conjunction with the relevant authorities, to ensure that no illegal animals or animal products enter the province.
  • Serving of directives (warning letters, notices, instructions); when abattoir owners not complying with the national essential standards; and the illegal slaughter or culling of food animals.

SAMPLING & ANALYSES:

  • To identified diseases in animals, for example, test for possible Mad Cow Disease (BSE) & TB in animals.
  • Taking of samples, (kidney, liver, fat) to test for the presence of residue in meat, for example: antibiotics, growth hormones & pesticides.
  • Taking carcass swaps to determine if bacteriological levels are at acceptable levels on meat and to determine the standard of the slaughtering and dressing processes.
  • Taking of water samples to determine if quality of water comply with SANS 241.
  • Taking swaps of meat contact surfaces/equipment, to determine effectiveness of cleaning and sanitation.
  • Taking hand swaps of food handlers to determine effectiveness of personnel hygiene.

HYGIENE AUDITS/INSPECTIONS OF STERILIZING PLANTS:

  • Act as technical advisors for the Register of Act 36 of 1947; monitor the structural and procedural requirements at sterilizing plants e.g. in the production of blood meal, carcass meal and bone meal.

HYGIENE AUDITS/INPECTIONS OF GAME HARVESTING AND GAME DEPOTS:

  • Monitoring the culling of animals for the local market to ensure that the game harvesting processes; game meat inspections and equipment, comply with national  standards/requirements.

HYGIENE AUDITS/INSPECTIONS OF ABATTOIRS:

  • Regular systematic hygiene audits/inspections of all red meat, poultry and ostrich abattoirs to assess the following processes for compliance, namely:
  1. Ante-mortem inspections;
  2. Humane handling of animals, prior to slaughter;
  3. Slaughter & dressing techniques;
  4. Primary meat inspections;
  5. Cleaning & sanitation of building and equipment;
  6. Chilling & transportation of meat.
  • Evaluate and making recommendations to abattoir owners & abattoir personnel on the following matters, nl:
  1. Disposal of condemned meat & inedible products; thus preventing it from reaching the food chain;
  2. Occupational Health & Safety issues. (identification of possible hazards in the workplace)

STRUCTURAL PLANNING OF ABATTOIRS:

  • Structural planning of all red meat, ostrich, game and poultry abattoirs and cutting plants for local markets.
  • Evaluate and make recommendations to the public (architects), regarding design drawings of facilities and approval of design drawings from a hygienic point of view. (for example: recommendations in regard with the layout of the abattoir; layout of equipment; process, product & personnel flow; floor drainage; ventilation; disposal of effluent and condemned material; cooling & ablution facilities; etc.)
  • Monitoring progress while under construction to ensure compliance with approved design drawings.
  • Determine structural standards at existing abattoirs and cutting plants and facilitate the registration, upgrading and repair thereof where necessary, to meet minimum norms and standards under the Act through extension.

PROMOTE THE IMPLIMENTATION OF FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT AND HYGIENE ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS:

  • Assistance is given to abattoir owners with the implementation and application of Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS/HMS) at all abattoirs, to ensure good manufacturing practices during slaughtering of food animals.
  • Assistance is also given with the implementation of Hygiene Assessment Systems (HAS) at all abattoirs in the Province and verification of the scores and monitoring of the corrective action taken, to bring all abattoirs up to standard.

EXTENSION PRACTICES:

  • Determine through consultation the slaughtering needs of communities and render technical assistance for the establishment of new abattoirs and upgrading of existing abattoirs to meet these needs and thus adding value to food production.
  • Promotion of primary and preventative human health by initiating control programs involving relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies, through the prevention of animal diseases transmissible to humans, (Zoonotic diseases) with emphasis on Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Internal Parasites (tapeworms) and Food Poisoning. (Salmonella)

ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS:

  • Collection of data; process monthly slaughter returns from abattoir owners to provide data of numbers of animals slaughtered and to report on disease incidence.
  • Compile and submit reports, letters and notices regarding routine abattoir inspections; audits at abattoirs and sterilizing plants and correspondence to role players as required.
  • Provide inputs to the operational plan/regulations and policies for Veterinary Public Health.
  • Register and issuing of registration certificates to all abattoirs complying with the provisions of the Meat Safety Act.
  • Registration of persons performing meat inspection services at abattoirs.
  • Registration of facilities approved as sources for the export of hides and skins.

EXPORT CONTROL:   

  • Inspection of meat & dairy products and verification of accompanying documentation for compliance, for export to various African countries.
  • Auditing of export facilities for compliance. (abattoirs, cutting plants, sources for hides & skins).
  • Monitoring the culling of animals for the export market to ensure that the game harvesting processes, game meat inspections and equipment, comply with national and international standards/requirements.

PROCEDURES TO FOLLOW WHEN APPLYING TO BUILD A NEW ABATTOIR.

Contact the office of the sub-directorate: Veterinary Public Health of the Department of Agriculture. (see contact list below) Discuss your intentions and plans. The procedures to follow will be discussed with the applicant in detail by a Veterinary Public Health Officer (VPHO). A site inspection will also be arrange with the applicant after the consultation.

WHAT IS APPROVED MEAT? It is meat obtained from healthy animals which have been slaughtered at approved abattoirs, which have been examined before slaughtering and which the meat has also been inspected after slaughtering by a registered meat inspector. Inspected meat can be recognised by the stamp “PASSED” on each quarter of the carcass (beef; sheep; pigs) and in the case of poultry the stamp of approval or registration number of the abattoir, will be printed on the packaging material or on labels of each individual carcass or cut portions.

DID YOU KNOW? In terms of the Meat Safety Act 2000, (Act 40 of 2000) anyone who is selling meat to the public, which was not obtained from an approved abattoir, is guilty of an offence and can be prosecuted by a court of law.

WHAT CAN CONSUMERS DO WHEN IN DOUBT ABOUT THE QUALITY OF MEAT THEY BUY?

  • When in doubt about the quality of meat you buy, it is your right to ask the dealer/shop owner if the meat was obtained from a legitimate source, such as an approved abattoir.
  • Look out for the stamp of approval on the meat or packaging material. (“PASSED”)
  • People who sell meat from illegal slaughtering activities should be reported to the Sub-directorate Veterinary Public Health of the Department of Agriculture or to the nearest police station. (See contact list below: offices of the Sub-directorate: Veterinary Public Health)

SUB PROGRAMME: VETERINARY PUBLIC HEALTH – CONTACT LIST

ELSENBURG – HEAD OFFICE Private Bag X1, Elsenburg, 7607 Muldersvlei Road, ELSENBURG, 7607

Surname

Name

Post description

Cell phone

Office phone

Wolhuter

Marthinus

DD: VPH

074 104 2020

0218087606

Jephtas

William

Tech Manager:VPH

0829053297

0218087751

Leask

Graham

State Veterinarian

0825516888

0218085016

Danti

Petunia

Administration Assistant

0218085273

OUDTSHOORN RESEARCH FARM OFFICE
P O Box 313 Oudtshoorn, Komanassie Road,Oudtshoorn, 6620

Surname

Name

Post description

Cell phone

Office phone

Plaatjies

Elroy

Veterinary Public Health Officer

0784515515

0442726077

GEORGE STATE VET OFFICE
Private Bag X 6525, 4 Varing Avenue, George, 6530

Surname

Name

Post description

Cell phone

Office phone

Dyers

Antonio Tony

Veterinary Public Health Officer

078 6837 202

0448741632

SWELLENDAM STATE VET OFFICE
P O Box 167, Swellendam, 6740

Surname

Name

Post description

Cell phone

Office phone

Roodt

Pieter

Veterinary Public Health Officer

078 5888 475

0285141670

BREDASDORP STATE VET OFFICE
Old Albert Myburg Hostel, Golf Street , Bredasdorp

Surname

Name

Post description

Cell phone

Office phone

Van Rooi

Eric

Veterinary Public Health Officer

082 635 4991

028 424 2219

BEAUFORT WEST STATE VET OFFICE
Blythstraat, Beaufort West, 6970, Private Bag 536,

Surname

Name

Post description

Cell phone

Office phone

Carstens

Cashwell

Veterinary Public Health Officer

076 5654 035

023 414 2154

PIKETBERG OFFICE
1 Church Street, Piketberg, P O Box 44, Piketberg, 7320

Surname

Name

Post description

Cell phone

Office phone

Nangamso

Baliso

Veterinary Public Health Officer

084 395 2759

022 913 2947

TYDSTROOM OFFICE
Sunset Slot 19, Sonstraal Strret, Durbanville, 7550

Surname

Name

Post description

Cell phone

Office phone

Els

Riaan

Veterinary Public Health Officer

078 511 2566

021 808 5111

Parasitic Cysts and Lesions in Meat

Measles (beef and pork)

Measles is a condition where cysts (the early stages) of tapeworms occur in the muscles of animals.
• This disease is important, because people can get tapeworms by eating meat infected by measles. As a result of meat condemnation, meat producers can experience severe financial losses.
• There are two different tapeworms; one affecting cattle (beef measles), and the other affecting pigs (pork measles).

How do animals become infected?

• The parasite has a lifecycle moving between the definitive or final host (people) and the intermediate host (cattle for measles in beef, pigs for measles in pork).
• The adult tapeworms live in the intestines of humans. When the tapeworm segments containing eggs are passed in stools (note that the segments for the beef tapeworm can move and leave the body on their own) they contaminate the environment, particularly if people do not use proper toilets but chooses to use the veld.
• Cattle are infected by eating the eggs when grazing. Pigs are infected by eating eggs passed in human faeces.
• Within the cattle and pigs, the eggs hatch and develop into larvae (the young stages) living in cysts in the muscles: this is measles.
• People are then infected by eating undercooked meat containing measles.

Signs in meat: cysts in beef muscle

• In both cattle and pigs the signs seen at slaughtering are white cysts in the muscles. The cysts are easy to see in pigs (they are about 1 cm in diameter) but are often smaller and more difficult to see in the case of cattle (may be only 2–3 mm in diameter).
• There are usually not many cysts in the case of beef measles, but many for pork measles because pigs eat human faeces in which the egg concentration in high.

Is this disease important in people?

• Both the beef and pork tapeworms live in the intestines of people, and can cause weight loss, stomach pain, dizziness, headaches and weakness.
• Tapeworms can be treated with medicine from the clinic or pharmacy.
• If people accidentally eat the eggs of the pork tapeworm because of poor personal hygiene, they can develop cysts in the brain, which can cause nervous signs such as epilepsy and often results in death. Treatment is often unsuccessful in these cases.
• The parasites are more likely to occur in people living in conditions where there is poor hygiene, but can occur in all who prefer raw or undercooked meat.

 

Abattoirs have its own specific design that will enable the workers to slaughter and dress the carcass hygienically and that will promote easy working conditions to reduce stressful working conditions that will result in unacceptable practices in the work place.

Regulations have been promulgated to ensure that the layout of the building will enhance the easy handling of carcasses and that acceptable practices are adhered to.

The layout of the premises and the buildings must be designed so that the production moves in one direction without any crossflow of products, which may adversely affect the hygiene of the product. Carcasses are received at the “dirty or unclean” end of the abattoir and meat is out loaded from the clean side of the abattoir.

Factors to be considered when selecting a suitable site:

An abattoir is classified as an “offensive trade”, but the product produced is edible, highly perishable and easily contaminated! The ideal abattoir layout provides for a linear pattern of flow from the lairage right through to the dispatch door or from receiving area to dispatch door in case of poultry abattoirs.

1.    Environment – pollution of the air, water and soil from the abattoir and the effect on nearby residential areas. Dust, chemicals and heavy-metal pollution from factories that could pollute the abattoir and the edible products.

2.    Geological properties of the soil for construction work, the height of the underground water level and the natural slope of the land for controlled storm-water run-off.

3.    Availability of services, water, power, sewerage, road and rail connections, labour and the economics involved in creating the necessary services.

4.    Size and shape of the site to accommodate all facilities. Future expansions or links with processing plant must be considered.

5.    The prevailing wind must blow from “clean” to “dirty”.

Before an abattoir is erected, the design drawings of such proposed construction must be submitted to the provincial executive officer for evaluation and approval. A properly completed application form must also be submitted to the provincial executive officer.

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