Should municipal slaughterhouses be reopened?

Should municipal slaughterhouses be reopened?

The order signed by President Gustavo Petro, which seeks to revive municipal slaughterhouses in Colombia, has generated various discussions around the effects, good and bad, for consumers.

And this step makes the campaign promise of the current head of state a reality, who argued that with the reopening of municipal slaughterhouses, farmers will be able to resell their products, thus ending the “monopolies of meat processing plants,” which ” “They raise the internal price of meat.”

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, one of the purposes of the decree is to reduce the price of meat and reduce the emptiness of cattle.

“With this we contribute to increasing the value of the meat chain in the regions. Above all, the most remote cities of Colombia will be able to access sanitary quality meat (…) In addition, the cost of transportation will be reduced because the movement of live animals and meat of the dead body between cities is not necessary. This will lower the price of meat products among the population,” explained Jhenifer Mojica, Minister of Agriculture.

From the Colombian Federation of Livestock Farmers (Fedegan) they stated that this decree will help to “prevent crimes such as cattle ranching and cattle theft”, something that has become a headache for ranchers.

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However, regarding the reduction in meat prices, José Felix Lafaurie, president of the union, said that “the Government believes that it has translated the needs of some popular sectors that believe that by making the step that is easier for the municipal slaughterhouses they have meat at a good price. . , but that is not important. The point is that people eat meat with a guarantee of health and safety,” said the union leader.

In turn, Álvaro Urrea, president of the Colombian Meat Processing Association (Asofricol), considers that they do not see lowering the price of meat as beneficial.

“The cost of transportation does not represent more than 1.5% of the price of the meat. It can be $400 or $500 only that is not passed on to the consumer. It is not a significant amount that will be attractive to consumers, and even more so it will not change much a regulation that works,” said Urrea.

Is public health at risk?

The Minister of Agriculture assured that, when Decree 1500 was issued in 2007, many municipal processing plants were closed because they did not meet the requirements, thus causing an increase in clandestine killings and loss of control over meat safety and toilet aspects. in the municipalities they closed.

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However, from the point of view of the leader of Asofricol, this new order puts the health of consumers at risk, because, he says, the safety criteria are made too easy.

“For example, the implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System is no longer mandatory. In addition, it changes the transport behavior for foods with different risks to public health,” said Urrea.

This, because the document establishes that “foods with different public health risks can be transported in the same vehicle, as long as they are properly separated, wrapped, protected and avoid cross contamination.”

In this regard, the former Minister of Agriculture, Andrés Valencia, said that what has been achieved “increases the risk that the meat that reaches the tables of the poorest families does not follow the minimum sanitary measures that makes it fit for human consumption. . “I’m going to create a second-hand meat market.”

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For the former official, the fact that it is allowed to transport food in the same vehicle “will mean that Invima and the Secretariats of Health must have the operational capacity to check the transportation of food as a preventive measure. Now, in the current Invima, we know that this capacity does not exist and lends itself to corruption.

And he added that “Colombia’s meat export markets may be at risk, especially now that the Chinese market has been opened. “Health admissibility protocols are more demanding in terms of meat safety. ”

Faced with this, the Minister of Health, Guillermo Jaramillo, warned that the slaughter centers must comply with the conditions of good care and health required by the health authorities.

“With Invima we will monitor and control these slaughter centers so that they operate with all the regulations and sanitary conditions required by public health,” emphasized the MinSalud.

Currently, the departments where the most slaughterhouses have been closed are Antioquia (98), followed by Santander (65), Cundinamarca (33), Boyacá (30), Tolima (20), Bogotá ( 19), Valle del Cauca and Nariño (17), and Huila and Caldas (15).