Welcoming the move of FDA to make it mandatory for the beef stalls to obtain the FDA licence, vice president of Qureshi’s Meat Traders Association of Goa Manna Bepari says in an interview with Abdul Wahab Khan that adhering to the FDA norms will help them raise the standards of hygiene
Q: What do you have to say about the FDA’s ongoing raids, directing the traders to maintain minimum hygiene standards?
We have been maintaining the basic sanitary and hygiene standards, which are necessary for the supply of meat products. We were ignorant about the requirement of FDA licence. It was the duty of the municipal bodies to inform us about it. However, we are not against the Food and Drugs Administration(FDA) move and all traders welcome the FDA decision. We are ready to follow the norms laid down in food safety regulations. It will help us raise the standards of hygiene already maintained by us.
Q: What sort of hygiene was maintained prior to FDA intervention?
See, we are in the trade of selling beef and not slaughtering animals and have valid municipal trade licence and NoC from the health department. Both these documents can be obtained only after a trader maintains the minimum hygiene and sanitary standards. Hence, it is not right to say that we have not been maintaining those standards. Our premises are always clean, adequately illuminated and ventilated and have sufficient free space for movement. The waste is collected by the respective municipalities on a daily basis and we have an efficient drainage system where we discharge waste water.
Q: What will it require on the part of the traders to make the beef stalls safer and hygienic?
We have been asked by the FDA to conform to the sanitary and hygiene requirements, which, the FDA claims, are presently missing. As per the FDA directions, the beef stalls need to install geysers to make provision for hot water to wash the cutting instruments so as to avoid metal contamination. Besides, a wash basin for the persons handling meat is also a requirement. The FDA has said that separate cloths shall be used for wiping hands and cleaning surfaces. Cloth used for cleaning of floor shall not be used for cleaning surfaces of tables and working area and for wiping utensils. We are ready to follow all the directions apart from using clean aprons and hand gloves.
Q: It has always been found that in most of the meat stalls, the meat is kept open thereby attracting flies and making it unfit for consumption. What provision have you made regarding this?
I would like to tell you that whatever quantity of meat we buy gets sold by afternoon. Since the stalls are open, it is natural for one to find flies getting attracted. However, we do use fly swats/ flaps to kill the flies entering the premises. We never use spray when carrying out our business activity.
Q: How can you ensure that the meat sold at the stalls is fit for consumption?
Since the Goa Meat Complex has not yet started slaughtering animals due to renovation being undertaken there, and temporary arrangements are yet to be made for carrying out slaughtering operations in the state, we had been importing beef from Karnataka, but now that has also been stopped by the traders in that state following interference of animal protection groups. As regards the imported meat that reaches the final consumers, the animals are certified by the respective state’s veterinarians. Traders will never take the risk of serving unhygienic meat to their customers.