“If there is one lesson to be learned from the Covid-pandemic, it is that we must ensure that the meat we buy and eat is healthy. That means from production to the plate, the animal is treated humanely and is healthy.”
The spread of the lethal corona virus is attributed to the wet markets in Wuhan, China, where the virus jumped from the slaughter market on to humans. Today there are more than 200 diseases that are known to emit from unsafe food. 600 million people fall ill every year from eating unsafe food while 420,000 die with 40 per cent being children below five years of age.
As the world global population increases, so will the demand for food. A sobering figure is that by 2050 human population in sub-Saharan Africa will be double that of today.
Hence, the production of safe meats is paramount.
According to the animal welfare campaigner, the chicken is the world’s favourite meat with the US, China and Brazil leading the consumption.
Raising chickens or any livestock for the plate requires good housekeeping. “This means that the animals do not suffer from pain, fear or distress.
“It means that the food they eat is healthy, that there is social distancing and they live in clean and comfortable enclosures,” states Yamo.
Just like human homes.
Antibiotics on the Rise in Farm Animals
Despite the fact that meat sold locally at the butchers is subject to inspection before sale, research shows increased use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.
Antibiotics play a significant role to treat people and livestock from bacterial-caused diseases and infections.
However, the inappropriate use of antibiotics has led to bacterial resistance that’s causing illnesses to take longer to heal and in worst case scenarios, death.
Today, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health in people and farm animals.
Three-quarters of all the antibiotics used in the world are used in farming. Statistics from WAP show that between 40 and 80 per cent of antibiotics used on farm animals are classified as unnecessary or highly questionable.
“Farmers use antibiotics on farm animals to reduce the risk of infection in cases like when the chicken coops are not properly cleaned or during transport,” says Yamo.
In Africa, it’s not uncommon to see chickens being transported hanging upside down on a bike or in crowded cages. The risk of injury is high as is the risk of infection from one animal to the next.
According to the WAP, this inappropriate use of antibiotics in farming is currently coming under greater international consumer scrutiny and has led to major fast-food restaurants banning products with antibiotic residues within their supply chain.
“Animals should only be treated with antibiotics when sick,” states Yamo.
There is concern over the general poor level of regulation of antibiotics in animal production and veterinary use.
WAP calls for the veterinary profession to ensure that antibiotics are used responsibly, following laid down international guidelines to safeguard animal health and welfare. It also calls for governments, the animal production industry players and different sectors of society, especially farmers and veterinarians, to ensure that the health and welfare of the animals is adequately catered for.
It also calls for a strong consumer consciousness to drive change and call for certified foods on the market.