Foot and Mouth crisis: unhealthy 'economic' solutions

Two articles

Gangs 'doctor' rotten meat for the dinner table by Paul Harris

Healthy sheep are slaughtered for nothing

by Anne-Marie Williams.
The reactions to the Foot and Mouth crisis are a sad reminder of the ease with which life can be disregarded once it has been defined as being a menace. Sheep all around the United Kingdom are being slaughtered in order to prevent the spread of the Foot and Mouth virus. This slaughter could be perhaps considered reasonable if it were a measure taken solely against sick animals, but alas, perfectly healthy animals are also killed in what has become a sheep holocaust. Firstly the sheep fall victim to this virus, secondly the entire sheep population is designated as posing a threat, the result is that all risk being killed, whether or not they are ill. This is a classic example of the destruction of what is considered impure, the life of the impure has no value, unless of course we mention economic value. For every sheep killed, whether it has the virus or otherwise, the British government pays compensation to the sheep's owner. This is all very well, except that this measure incites farmers to slaughter entire healthy herds, simply because it is economically more viable than keeping them alive. It is also due to economic factors that the sheep are not vaccinated against the threatening virus, it is less costly and an easier option to kill the animals.
Great Britain was once considered a kingdom of animal lovers, unfortunately animal lovers seem to be rather particular when choosing the object of their affections, and once those animals risk being ill or impure, the only solution seems to be their slaughter.Once these healthy sheep have been slaughtered do they enter the human food chain? Is the meat obtained distributed to those in need? Certainly not! On the contrary the sheep are now burnt. In essence, healthy animals are killed for absolutely no reason, except of course the fact that it is economically more viable for farmers, and no doubt such measures reassure the public that the British government is actively finding solutions.

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Gangs 'doctor' rotten meat for the dinner table

, Sunday october 7, 2001, The Observer.

Criminal gangs are making millions of pounds from the sale of highly contaminated meat that is putting the lives of thousands of people at risk, police have revealed. Officers from at least five forces have launched joint investigations with environmental health officials into the illicit trade of 'laundering' meat destined for the pet food industry or destruction.

There is evidence the mass slaughter of animals due to the foot and mouth epidemic has led to an increase in unfit meat being passed back into the human food chain. Authorities said rotting and diseased carcasses are bought cheaply and then 'laundered' back into the human food chain. Gangs cut off rotting sections of meat, including cancerous growths and abscesses, and sometimes dye the meat white again by soaking it in a bucket of salt water and a non-toxic dose of bleach.

The Observer has learnt that police and health officials have launched investigations in Lancashire, Hampshire, Wales, Norfolk and Derbyshire to unmask the gangs behind the trade. The criminals obtain false documentation that will claim the meat is legitimate. They make deliveries at weekends or at night to avoid health inspectors. The unfit meat can contain bacteria such as campylobacter and salmonella, potentially lethal food poisons. Last month police and environmental health officials raided a Norfolk farm and found nine tons of rotting meat, including two dead foxes. The farm had no hot water, the meat still bore traces of fur, and rat droppings littered the floor.

The meat was not fit for pet food, but inspectors believe it was destined for the dinner table. 'I have never seen anything like it in 40 years of food hygiene enforcement,' said Granville Smith, chief environmental health officer for South Norfolk.

Meat scheduled for pet food can be bought for as little as 30p per pound, but if doctored and sold back into the human food chain it can fetch as much as £2 per pound. One Rotherham gang netted several millions in three years.

'There is a lot of money to be made,' said Yunes Teinaz, a senior environmental health officer in Haringey, London. Teinaz's team has made 30 confiscations in the last four months and obtained 21 court orders ordering unfit meat to be destroyed. One target of the illegal meat traders is halal butchers, whose network of small family-owned shops is run by owners with little formal trading. A new campaign, spearheaded by London's Regent's Park mosque, has been launched to help traders and consumers spot unfit meat. Leaflets will be distributed and mosque sermons will be used to spread the message. Public health officials believe the trade in potentially lethal meat will become more widespread following government plans to privatise meat inspection.

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