Lack of state vets poses health threat

2011-11-19 13:12

Pietermaritzburg - The failure of the government to fill vacant posts of state veterinarians could put beef consumers at risk of infected red meat that can cause severe diarrhoea, kidney failure and even death.

A report by the Red Meat Industry Forum states that close to 40% of state veterinarians’ positions are vacant.

This has created policing problems as many meat producers cutting corners are not likely to get caught.

State vets play an important role in ensuring that abattoirs are complying with the law and that the meat production process is of acceptable standards.

Gareth Lloyd-Jones, managing director of Ecowize, a hygiene and sanitation company serving the food sector, said the fact that 37% of state vets’ posts are unfilled poses a challenge for the red meat industry.

“The veterinarians fulfil a policing role under the law.

“They have the powers to shut down any operation that is not adhering to the required standards. With the current situation, there is not much policing being done.”

He said many unscrupulous abattoir operators could take a chance and supply sub-standard products to the market, which would not only compromise the whole red meat industry, but could expose consumers to contaminated meat.


“While generally people do not get sick from consuming low-quality beef, they will get sick if that beef is contaminated.”

Lloyd-Jones said that depending on the type of bacteria, infected meat can cause a variety of illnesses that could result in death if it is not treated appropriately.

He also criticised the government’s failure to establish a food control agency to regulate imports and exports of meat.

“Cheap, low-quality meats are currently being imported without rigorous inspections or policing as no government intervention exists and this is a necessary gatekeeper in enforcing stringent food security protocol at our borders.”

Steve Galane, the spokesperson for the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, conceded that there is a shortage of veterinarians.

“That has been put on the scarce skills list and we are busy trying to recruit,” he said.

  • Dmitri - 2011-11-19 13:47

    BEE in action. You can cry as much as you want, we all know that is the truth

      Dirk - 2011-11-19 16:56

      Apparently around 100 vets are produced a year and almost all of them immediately leave the country. And remember the matric student with 92% for maths and 90% for science refused admission at Onderstepoort because she is white?

      Irene - 2011-11-19 20:56

      Spot on! Few vets are coming through the system because they're not allowed to study because of the colour of their skin. The few that do quality due to the quota system also can't be employed because of the colour of their skin. Therein lies the problem and until the ANCrime Syndicate accept this, the country will continue to slide.

  • Liz - 2011-11-19 13:52

    pay them a decent salary. not making enough, that's why vets go into private practice.

      goyougoodthing - 2011-11-19 15:41

      What would constitute a decent salary?

  • Gregory Jurgens - 2011-11-19 18:07

    Oh dear. Are we going to wait for people to die before any action is taken to rectify the situation.I can already hear the health ministers sincere condolences to the grieving families.

      Dirk - 2011-11-20 07:53

      The collapse and decay is happening over a very wide front, and is still being covered up. Its possible now, but with the domino effect, the decline escalates into a full blown catastrophe.

  • Rob - 2011-11-19 18:28

    Just another depressing example of collapse in the public services. Is anything state/quasi-state organisation managed to produce results rather than jobs for the boys

  • James - 2011-11-19 18:43

    Well if you didn't discriminate against whites this would not be the case

  • Bianca - 2011-11-20 09:40

    As a final year Vet student can I please put some of the rumours on these comments about BEE and what have you to rest? This year over 1000 people applied to get in. So far 43 people have been accepted provisionally on their matric trials marks, and the rest of the 120 students that will be accepted will only be accepted based on their final matric marks, which obviously are not available yet. My source for this information you may ask? A friend of mine's sister is in matric this year and applying to get in, so I have been going with her to the university administration to find out how her application is being processed. So that girl that got 90s didn't get rejected based on the colour of her skin, its merely because she wasn't in the top 0.043% of the people who applied; there is a decent chance that she will get accepted later on. Yes there is an admissions quota whereby a certain number of people accepted must be people of colour, but please don't throw it out of proportion - that quota is about 10 people out of the 120. If 10 people of colour don't apply (I think we had 6 in my class) then the remaining positions are given to other applicants. Furthermore, I have never heard of a qualified Vet not receiving a job based on the colour of their skin, simply because there is a shortage of vets in the country. Hopefully with community service coming in within the next few years this whole shortage of vets to do secondary meat inspection situation will be sorted out.

  • Bianca - 2011-11-20 09:55

    In the mean time if you are concerned for your own health, ensure that you buy your meat from a reputable source such as woolwoths, Pick n Pay etc. These comapnies perform their own audits on the abattoirs that supply them with meat and ensure that they comply with regulations and quality standards (part of this being that they have a registered Vet performing meat inspection). Or ask your local butcher what measures he has in place to ensure the abattoir that supplies him complies.

  • Swais Stouter - 2011-11-20 18:52

    They all left for australia lol

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