Red meat is safe to buy

2011-03-03 00:00

THE South African Red Meat Industry Forum yesterday called for calm amid fears overthe outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

Minister of Agriculture Tina Joemat-Petterson announced on Monday that there has been an outbreak.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) reported that testing has shown that cloven-hooved wild animals at Mkuze Game Reserve are also infected with the disease.

The disease was detected near Jozini.

Veterinary surgeons of the agriculture department and EKZNW are conducting tests to determine the spread of the disease.

The Red Meat Industry Forum, an association of organisations representing the interests of groups in the red meat industry, said in a statement yesterday the public should not panic as meat supplies have not been tainted.

Dave Ford, chairperson and spokesperson for the Red Meat Industry Forum, said, “We want to ease any concerns which South African consumers might have relating to this latest finding … locally produced South African red meat is safe to purchase from supermarkets and butcheries and safe and nutritious to eat.”

His assurance was echoed by the state veterinary surgeon, Dumisani Mtshali, who is researching animal diseases in northern KZN.

Mtshali said that while the movement of animals suspected to be carrying the disease has been restricted, commercial beef farmers are still able to take their meat to the abattoir.

“If the farmers take their animals to be slaughtered at the abattoir, the animals are tested by veterinarians … before they are slaughtered, and if an animal is found to be carrying the disease, it is not slaughtered.

“Even the community members who wish to perform umsebenzi [a cultural ceremony] can do so because the disease is not dangerous to humans.”

Mtshali said no clinical cases have been reported.

“We discovered the disease by chance because we were doing random testing. The area in which the disease was initially discovered is a mere 50 kilometres from the Mozambican border and hence we do regular testing there.”

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