#DayZero: Will our meat be safe?

Are your favourite meat cuts still prepared under hygienic standards?
Are your favourite meat cuts still prepared under hygienic standards?

We've been told repeatedly that, to delay the arrival of #DayZero, we need to cut down on our water consumption.

While most households are doing their bit, many businesses are suffering as they try to put contingency plans in place to best cope with the water shortage.

Especially abattoirs are having a hard time since they require enormous quantities of water for facilities to function. They are governed by not only the stringent hygiene and safety standards set for them by various governing bodies, but by their own policies as well.

Water's not a luxury, it's essential

Managing Director for the Tomis Group, Laurie Terblanche, told Health24 that water is the lifeline of abattoirs and cleaning and sanitation is part of Good Manufacturing Practice.

Terblanche said, "Water is required and essential to follow the necessary personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitation programmes. It's also essential for the production of items like sausage and burgers.

"Personal hygiene and cleaning and sanitation programmes ensure the microbial load is within specification and eliminates risk of any pathogens, like Listeria, from growing. Lairages (holding pens for animals) need to be cleaned regularly and animals must be provided with clean, fresh drinking water.

"Hygiene is a non-negotiable when it comes to safe meat, whether carcasses or any other production meat. This is not something anyone can compromise on."

Enormous water bills

Many abattoirs have had problems with water over the last few months. It's almost impossible for these businesses to cut down or stay within prescribed limits of water usage, and because of this they have been confronted with enormous water bills every month.

Deon Grobbelaar, Managing Director for the Groenland Abattoir in Grabouw, told Health24 that their business is suffering with the water restrictions and drought.

"We have enormous water bills that we have to pay at the end of the month. It's tens of thousands of rand just for water for us to function normally.

"We're fortunate in that we're not too big an abattoir and we do have a few quieter periods compared to other abattoirs, but in general, we're all suffering," said Grobbelaar.

Borehole water

Going forward, Terblanche and Grobbelaar mentioned using boreholes to source water for the business to go ahead as effectively as possible.

Terblanche said: "We have two boreholes as a contingency plan. We also have a chlorination and filtration treatment plant."

"All water is monitored daily and tested by a third party accredited lab to ensure safe water which is pathogen-free and safe to use in the factory."

Strategic planning and development

Spokesperson for Worcester Abattoir, Abie van Zyl, told Health24 that the threat of being without water is a major problem, but they are still in the consultation process.

Van Zyl said, "We are not at the stages of implementation yet. While we are doing our best to manage our use of water accordingly, it's extremely challenging – looking at how we could possibly mitigate the possible damages and losses we may experience because of this drought.

"The directors of the abattoir and I are considering crucial issues and important factors when it comes to water usage, and we are discussing how we can maintain our standards, even though we're operating with very little water. We have to."

What are your concerns around food hygiene and safety once #DayZero arrives? Share your thoughts or advice on and we may publish your comments. Please tell us if you prefer to remain anonymous.

Image credit: iStock

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