TANZANIA – The Tanzania Meat Board (TMB) has embarked on a nationwide initiative to strengthen meat quality and safety systems in the country.

TMB Registration Officer, Mr Geoffrey Sosthenes, says that the efforts seeks to improve hygiene and meat handling especially in abattoirs and retail outlets.

He said TMB has taken various measures to ensure that meat-processing areas were being improved in order to meet the required standards.

“We have already written letters to regional administration and local governments authorities countrywide to ensure that they put more emphasis on improving the hygiene in meat processing areas including slaughter houses, butcheries among others”, he said.

Mr Sosthenes points out that according to an assessment carried out by the Tanzania Meat Board, most butcheries in the country were operating below standards, reports Daily News.

Notably, the Board has committed to phase out the use of wooden chopping logs as a surface for cutting meat used across majority of butcheries.

The board highlights the practice to significantly implicate on the quality of meat.

The Board says that it has given butchery operators until September 30, this year as a deadline for using the wooden chopping logs for cutting meat, and in turn they should use meat band saw-cutting machine.

Mr Sosthenes notes that the hard to clean and porous surfaces encourage proliferation of bacteria that can lead to meat contamination hence posing as a health hazard to consumer.

In addition he said that apart from causing meat contamination, studies conducted have also showed that the use of wooden chopping blocks causes loss of one kilogram of meat in every 100 kilograms.

Mr Sosthenes, insisted that a standard butchery must have equipment such as band saw, digital weighing scale – which has been inspected – and chopping blocks which can be cleaned easily.

He also explained that meat retail outlets must be operated by two people with clear demarcation of responsibilities to avoid cross contamination.

He said that there has been a low response by butchery operators to register their business, but efforts were underway to ensure that all butcheries in the country were registered.

According to him, currently 1, 040 butcheries have been registered as per the law, adding: “These butcheries are the ones which have met all the required standards.”

Recently, TMB said that the government was taking various measures to increase local meat production and consumption and cut down imports.

According to the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development Tanzania produces an average of 581,804.2 of meat per year whereby 96 per cent is consumed locally.

Of the total meat consumed locally, 95 per cent is sold in ordinary markets and 4 per cent in special markets including, tourist hotels and supermarkets while 0.7 per cent of total meat production is exported.