TACLOBAN CITY – No single local government-run abattoir in Eastern Visayas passed the accreditation standards this year, raising concerns that some meat might not be suitable for distribution and sale, the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) reported. NMIS Regional Director Orlando Ongsotto said that some previously accredited slaughterhouse failed to restore their facilities after it was destroyed by supertyphoon “Yolanda” in 2013.

Consequently, areas without government-accredited abattoirs cannot market their product outside their city or town, according to NMIS. “Only 45 percent of our 143 cities and towns in the region have abattoirs. Other areas do the slaughtering of livestock and poultry products in houses, public or under a tree,” Ongsotto said. Local abattoirs are still practicing old concept, which are open type, without partitions and using manual operational system. Ongsotto has called on mayors to appoint meat inspectors to ensure meat safety even with the absence of slaughter houses. Latest NMIS report shows that 60 percent of the region’s 136 towns have no meat inspectors.

Under the law, all livestock and poultry products slaughtered for food should be subject to veterinary inspection and examination before distribution and sale. “However, the local government cannot effectively implement meat inspection if there’s no slaughterhouse in an area,” Ongsotto added. Next year, the NMIS hopes that four areas – Catbalogan City in Samar, Naval in Biliran, Tacloban City in Leyte, and San Roque in Northern Samar – will have accredited slaughterhouses as construction kicks off this year.
Some LGUs are recipients of post-Yolanda rehabilitation projects, but no single budget has been released so far for abattoir construction, according to Ongsotto. Some LGUs will also get financial assistance to build slaughterhouses through the bottom-up budgeting. “The challenge with LGU is funding constraint. Government facility is always a service. It’s hard to maintain a facility if it’s not generating income,” the official stressed. A city or town needs at least P10 million for the construction of a fully equipped abattoir.  (SARWELL Q. MENIANO)