MPs discussed checks and balances in the South African meat industry during talks in Cape Town on Tuesday.
MPs discussed checks and balances in the South African meat industry during talks in Cape Town on Tuesday.

SA MPs share grisly meat stories

By Chantall Presence Time of article published Mar 26, 2013

Share this article:

Cape Town - MPs told some chilling stories about their experiences with meat during a meeting with academics, government officials and industry representatives in Parliament on Tuesday.

“There's a saying that says if you like sausage, you shouldn't go into the kitchen where it's made, but we’ve ventured into this kitchen, and we’ve opened this Pandora's box to find out what is in the sausage that we eat,” Democratic Alliance MP Pieter van Dalen said.

Van Dalen berated the government for inspecting only exported meat, and for doing little to nothing to monitor what goes into imported produce in the country.

“We don't worry about our own health, because we don't inspect anything that comes into this country.”

Van Dalen said his own experience of watching how mince and sausage were made at a butchery in his home area was disturbing.

“It looks like a wooden pellet. They put lots of water in there, it mixes with the blood, then this blood gets absorbed into this little wooden block,” he said.

“It looks like it’s a lot of meat, but actually it’s just a lot of wood with the flavour of blood inside. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”

ANC MP Salam Abram said not enough concern was being shown for the health of South Africans.

He cited recent media reports about the amount of brine injected into products such as chicken.

“This type of injection... (it) is a substance that can cause harm to people. How is this allowed to be freely bought on supermarket shelves throughout the country?”

United Democratic Movement MP Lennox Gaehler said the departments of health, agriculture and trade and industry needed to immediately do random inspections in rural towns, and poor areas in cities.

“Go down to small towns. You'll find we are eating dog meat as well, and cat meat and rats and everything,” said Gaehler.

Stellenbosch University scientist Louw Hoffman agreed that poorer areas needed to be targeted.

“I'm not worried about the big supermarkets. They are self-regulated because they don't want to lose their customers,” Hoffman said.

He headed a study which found several processed meats were incorrectly labelled and contained undeclared species.

“I keep asking myself why do we have these products in our meat, and at the end of the day it's about profit,” he said.

One of Hoffman's biggest worries was that 40 percent of the animals slaughtered in the country came from non-registered abattoirs.

“A lot of that meat is consumed fresh, pre-rigour, so in that way it's safe, but it hasn't gone through any health and safety check, so we have no idea what parasites it contains.”

Hoffman said consumers had the right to know what was in the food they were eating.

This was not being done, specifically in processed and manufactured meats.

Hoffman said profit was the most common motive behind the mislabelling of products and duping of consumers.

“How can they sell it so cheap? The only way they can sell it so cheap is if funny stuff is landing up in there,” he said. - Sapa

Share this article: