KANNUR: A few days ago, a joint raid was carried out by the food safety department and state pollution control board (PCB) in a poultry stall in Pannyannur panchayat in Thalassery. The officials were not only shocked to see its unhygienic condition but also found that it had been functioning for the last 30 years without the PCB’s permission. Though the owner was not allowed to sell chicken as meat, he had been doing it uninterruptedly with the connivance of local body officials.
“The condition of the stall was so appalling that one would think twice before eating chicken in his/her life,” said E K Somasekharan, district coordinator of Haritha Keralam Mission and a member of the district-level facilitation and monitoring committee which issues licences and monitors the functioning of meat stalls, slaughterhouses and rendering plants (that convert house waste, kitchen grease and livestock carcasses into industrial fats and oils, and fertilisers).
This is not a rare case, said Dr P V Mohanan, another member of the committee. “Most of the chicken stalls and slaughterhouses in the state function like this as they find ways to circumvent regulations and laws,” he said. According to a survey carried out by the state economics and statistics department in 2013, 15,680 poultry stalls functioned in the state, of which more than 75% were not registered with any of the official bodies. At the same time, 32% of the shops had the licence from local bodies after they showed that they were selling only live chicken, not their meat. Only 3% had the licence from the food safety department and 23% the licence from PCB. Only 3.27% stalls had all licences required to run the business.
“The situation has got only worse. According to unofficial data, there are around 26,000 chicken stalls and slaughterhouses in the state now, of which only 5% have the food safety department licence,” said Mohanan. According to PCB, only 1,190 stalls have got the board’s licence across the state. “The others operate illegally. This could be possible only with the silent support of officials of local bodies,” he said.
The LSG department had brought out guidelines in November 2021 for issuing licences and operation of chicken stalls, slaughterhouses and rendering plants. The guidelines say the chicken stalls need licences from the local body concerned, PCB and food safety department. A committee with the district collector as its chairman has to be constituted in each district to monitor this. In most of the districts, the committees remain only on paper. However, in Kannur, Kasaragod and Kozhikode, where the committees function well, they find the going difficult because of non-cooperation from the local bodies.
The deputy director of panchayats had sent a letter to the panchayats demanding the details of poultry stalls, but many of them have not furnished the same. “The LSGD’s guidelines are not being followed in most of the poultry stalls and slaughterhouses in the state. The food safety department responds only when a case of food poisoning is reported. This has been creating serious health problems for lakhs of people,” said Mohanan.
Considering the serious situation, the LSGD is now compiling proper data regarding the chicken stalls and slaughterhouses which have the necessary licences from the departments concerned.he officials concerned if The local bodies have been given clear instructions to give the exact details of the slaughterhouses and poultry stalls in their areas.
No Valid licence
Only 5% of 26,000 chicken stalls and slaughterhouses in the state has the food safety department’s licence
Only 1,190 stalls have got the Pollution Control Board’s licence