People in Karachi condemned to consume unhygienic meat, says Pakistan experts

By Shahid Husain, in Karachi

- Last updated on GMT

Veterinary doctors are being blamed for the provision of unhygienic meat to the people of Karachi. Credit: Sunduslive
Veterinary doctors are being blamed for the provision of unhygienic meat to the people of Karachi. Credit: Sunduslive

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A former secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has roundly condemned environmental health controls at the main slaughterhouse for Karachi, the country’s largest metropolitan area and home to more than 20 million people.

Dr Shershah Syed told GlobalMeatNews​ that the Landhi slaughterhouse "is the worst you can imagine".​ He said: "There is no proper disposal system of blood, other fluids and waste. Animals can be slaughtered even if they are sick and have skin and mouth diseases. People working there don’t have proper gear, clothes and preventive measures and, after the animals are slaughtered, their transportation to different wholesale and retail shops is very bad."

Dr Syed claimed animals were not offered an Islamic prayer before slaughter, as per halal traditions. He also claimed there was poor handling of meat post-slaughter at the slaughterhouse: "Unhealthy meat may carry chronic diseases, infections, etc. Sometimes there is not even water available at Landhi slaughterhouse to wash the slaughtered animals,"​ he argued.

The abattoir is run by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, whose veterinary department director Dr Ashfaq Ali refuted Syed’s charges. He said the corporation posted two veterinary doctors at the Landhi slaughterhouse, and inspected each of the 1,000 to 11,000 cattle and 2,000 to 25,000 goats and sheep slaughtered there daily.

Veterinarian Dr Ali said many animals sent to Landhi are simply livestock that have been milked for the dairy sector, but have stopped producing: "Ninety-nine per cent healthy animals are slaughtered at Landhi slaughterhouse,"​ he claimed. The veterinary controls helped ensure meat from the plant was healthy, he told GlobalMeatNews​: "Nobody can judge whether the animal was healthy or not from looking at the meat. Only a veterinary doctor can judge whether or not an animal is healthy,"​ he said.

However, visiting Karachi’s wholesale and retail Gurumandir meat market, GlobalMeatNews​ was told by trader Mohammad Younus, that there were indeed significant health problems at Landhi. "Karachi Metropolitan Corporation does not care for hygiene,"​ said, claiming some officials take "bhatta"​ (extortion money) from city slaughterhouses. That said, during this month’s Eid-Ul-Azha festival, where traditionally many livestock animals are slaughtered near the homes of Muslims, offal thrown on the streets by citizens was collected quickly by the city government, he said.

Between 250,000 and 300,000 animals were slaughtered in Karachi alone this year, said Engineer Abdul Aziz, general secretary of Al-Khidmat, a subsidiary organisation of right-wing religious organisation Jamaat-e-Islami. He, too, was concerned about unhygienic conditions at the Landhi slaughterhouse.

Also, the chairman of the Consumers Association of Pakistan Kaukab Iqbal backed Dr Syed: "Veterinary doctors should be blamed for provision of unhygienic meat to the people of Karachi. They stamp slaughtered meat, including sick and injured animals, after taking bribes. Moreover, transportation of animals from slaughterhouses in Karachi is conducted in trucks and pick-ups that are open and, at times, employees are sitting on it, whereas slaughtered animals are transported across the world in covered trucks."

The slaughterhouse is located in the Karachi suburbs, in the Bhains Colony. The city’s meat market is also served by a relatively smaller slaughterhouse in North Karachi, a new town, which is also run by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. Then there are also some smaller private slaughterhouses across the city. Karachi slaughterhouses largely source animals from the interior of its Sindh province, along with some rural areas of Punjab and Balochistan, say traders.

The country’s federal government is unlikely to intervene over the issue. A spokesman for the Pakistan Standards & Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) told GlobalMeatNews​: "It’s not in our purview. Food inspectors from the government of Sindh are responsible for checking the quality of animals."  

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