Manchester's Gov't-owned abattoirs remain closed
SRHA says it has health concernsSunday, October 31, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Health officials here have maintained that the Christiana abattoir, which was shut down in March, will remain closed until public health breaches are addressed by its operator, the Manchester Municipal Corporation.
Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) Director Michael Bent told the Jamaica Observer last Thursday that the abattoir is one of three publicly-run operations closed in Manchester in the past decade because of health concerns. The others are located at Waltham on the southern outskirts of Mandeville, which is the capital of Manchester; and Porus, 12 miles to the east, close to the Clarendon border.
“We have some issues with primarily those that are publicly operated in Manchester,” Bent said.
He said health inspectors had informed the local municipality as to what the breaches were.
“They (health inspectors) would have found that some things are not up to standard in terms of the whole public health [and] how they should be operated, whether it is the water infrastructure, etc. The team would have written to the owners, that is the municipal corporation. We would have made some recommendations for corrective actions to be taken,” he said.
He described inspection of meat and related infrastructure as being of critical importance.
“We monitor all the abattoirs — whether private or public — throughout the region. We would have been working with the owners, because the primary aim of the public health team is not to close down whether business or abattoir. These are critical operations, but we have to ensure that the public health standards are met,” he said.
“The flip side is, if they are not maintained and, God forbid, something should happen and these facilities whether private or public, and somebody gets sick, because of consuming (unsafe products) then it becomes another problem, persons (possibly) requiring hospitalisation,” he added.
Councillor for the Mandeville Division, Jones Oliphant (People's National Party), told the Sunday Observer last Friday that the local municipality has had to keep the Waltham abattoir closed due to financial constraints.
“It was some broiler (equipment) problem and the cost to put it in, we couldn't bear it,” he said.
Oliphant said that when the facility was closed three years ago, he met with butchers and suggested that they come up with a plan to lease the facility from the municipality.
“Some residents next door made an issue of the waste generated at the abattoir and the smell, even though the slaughterhouse was there from before (residents moved there),” he said.
“I met with the butchers and I had told them to come up with a plan that they could present to the council, so that they could take it over as a private initiative, and lease it from the council. They were not enthused. It was just the minority, maybe two out of 30 who would have wanted that,” he added.
Councillors in Manchester, including Oliphant, have criticised the health department for what they claim is a tendency to change requirements.
“We have an issue with the health department, because they will tell you to do certain things and when you do it they shift the post. You can't satisfy them,” he said.
Councillor for the Craighead Division Omar Miller (Jamaica Labour Party) interjected twice during a recent presentation by chief public health inspector for Manchester, Charmaine Palmer Cross.
He pressed for answers on the operational abattoirs in Manchester.
Palmer Cross responded by explaining that private abattoirs, markets and meat shops are inspected by her team.
“On a weekly basis the officers (inspectors) would go to the markets or the meat shops to do an assessment to ensure that the meat is safe. We also require where they would have slaughtered. Persons slaughter within the parish and outside of the parish,” she said.
She said that private abattoirs are located at Sunset, Oxford, Spur Tree and Comfort.
Bent said the local municipality is yet to implement all the recommendations outlined by the public health inspectors.
“Once those corrective actions are taken then the team will go back and do an assessment and once it's satisfactory then the public health team will give them the green light to reopen. As it is now they have not yet implemented all the recommendations by the public health inspectors, so they are still in an unsatisfactory state,” said Bent.
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