Monday, September 26, 2016

First class slaughterhouse facility rises in Buenavista town

#CaragaAgriculture #PCCP #CleanFoodFacility #BuenavistaSlaughterhouse

September 22, 2016 was a momentous day in the history of the Philippine Cold Chain Project.  The morning was spent at the ribbon cutting for the now well-equipped municipal slaughterhouse in Buenavista. The new slaughterhouse is located just a few kilometers west of Butuan City.

When PCCP started working on slaughter house development, we made the rounds visiting local mayors that requested some assistance and wanted to collaborate.  The problem faced here in the Philippines is that each mayor and local government unit has the responsibility to deal with issues of public health and sanitation in their municipalities.  Part of this responsibility includes enforcement of rules and regulations regarding the slaughter of animals and assurance that this process is done in a humane and clean fashion.  Backyard slaughtering in the town is not legal and should be done in a slaughter house.

After evaluating the situation in Buena Vista, PCCP found out that it was not unlike most other municipalities that we visited.  First of all, the mayor, his engineer and local staff involved with the public market and slaughter house did not possess an in-depth knowledge on how to make a new slaughter house work.  The existing slaughter house, located a short distance from the wet market could be described as a black cement slab and table with a cast iron tub for scalding pigs.  All slaughtering was done on the floor of this totally inadequate facility.  To promote change and improvements, the LGU had built a new “slaughter” house in another location. We inspected the existing place where animals were butchered and, afterwards, visited the newly-built structure where the slaughtering will be done. On touring this new facility, it had the rudimentary design features of a pig and cattle slaughter facility.  However, the overall materials used showed that the contractor was familiar with building houses but not building slaughter facilities.  The floor tiles, drainage system, water system, roof, entrances for people and animals were mostly done incorrectly, if not all!

PCCP staff then proceeded to work with the LGU and mayor’s office to redesign the new facility. There were necessary design changes to turn it into a working facility.  The project had been able to locate an excellent contractor based out of Manila who specializes in slaughter plant construction.  This contractor had been able to take measurements, prefabricate equipment and deliver it to the site. The construction team lived on site until the installation was completed.  They also worked with the LGU to initiate necessary design changes and improvements. 

PCCP discovered, as well, that plans developed by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) for small scale slaughter facilities have not been adequately vetted.  One problem with these NMIS plans is in the design of the chute for the pigs when entering the plant.  PCCP changed this design to be just wide enough for the pig to walk in and also walls should be made of hollow block and not rails.   The ramp should also be on a gradual angle and not difficult for the animal to walk up.  In this way, stress on the livestock and handler is minimized.

The Philippines has good law on the books that mandates humane treatment of animals.  A properly designed facility should assure that the animal’s welfare is a primary concern.  We work with NMIS provincial unit to help raise awareness about what is illegal.  “Zorro” marking where the pig is marked with a razor blade on its hide for identification purposes should be stopped.  Stunning the pig with ineffective means that end up torturing the animal should be stopped as well.  In PCCP-assisted facilities, a stunner is installed.  After the pig walks up to the slaughter house, it is held in a specially designed chute.  The butcher rinses off the pig and then uses the stunner.  The stunner is a “y” shaped device that is placed behind the pig’s ears on its neck.  A foot pedal is used to start and stop and electric charge which stuns the pig to the point of unconsciousness.  There is no noise if this device is used correctly.  The chute then has a swinging door which allows easy access to the now stunned pig.  The pig then is “stuck” so that the blood drains and is caught in a sanitary container.  Pig blood is a very popular cooking ingredient here in the Philippines so it is saved.  Once this process is complete, the carcass is placed in the scalding tank.  This tank has been designed in such a way that it is easy to maintain the water at a scalding temperature without the presence of smoke from the fire in the slaughter house.  Above this tank there is an electric winch.  This winch, along with a stainless steel gambrel is used to pull the carcass out of the scalding tank in a way that keeps the butcher safe from the hot water and also helps him to avoid heavy lifting.  The carcass is now placed on a stainless table where it is scraped of all its hair.  People here like to have their pork with “skin on” unlike in the United States where the skin is usually removed.  Once scraped the gambrel is attached to a hook and this hook is on a roller which is placed on a rail.  This makes for easy movement of the carcass.  At this stage, the butchers may choose to “flame” the carcass as well which entails using a blow torch to burn of any remaining hair or fuzz on the skin.  The carcass is now open and the entrails are placed in a stainless container.  These entrails and the carcass are examined by the local LGU meat inspector.  The entrails are passed through an opening to a “dirty” area where they are further processed.  The butchers, who are wearing boots, aprons, hair net and face mask continue their work while standing on an elevated metal platform.  Once everything is clean and sorted, the carcass can be weighed, bagged in plastic or chilled (if a cooler is available).  At the end of the rail, the carcass is then transferred to a meat van and taken to the local market where the meat vendor cuts the carcass up in appropriate meat cuts.

The butchers have to wear proper equipment including rubber boots and pass through a foot bath and hand wash before they can start to work.  They should also have available a rest area and bathroom facility on site and be trained in proper procedures and sanitation techniques.  A knife dip should be used regularly to keep knives clean and sanitary.  Also the work areas should be kept clean.  In order to facilitate this, the proper design includes overhead water piping with hoses and pressure nozzles available in properly spaced intervals.  Outside the facility, there should be a wall with a gate, a cement “apron” around the slaughter house, and adequate water holding and water treatment facilities to handle the large amount of waste water generated by the facility.

In the case of Buenavista, there was a very nice ribbon cutting ceremony attended by all barangay captains and also members of the mayor’s management committee or SB.  The facility was properly blessed by the local priest and speeches were given.  This was followed by a typical meal that included roast pig.  The best part for me however was being able to see a project though to implementation.  It took longer than we expected but, in the end, PCCP and the LGU were able to come together and surmount all difficulties faced.  There is more to do at the new facility, including installation of a cattle line, cementing for the lot outside and putting up a wall and gate.  Still, Buenavista can now take pride of their 'AA' slaughter house facility where things are being done properly without any “on-floor” butchering and reduced stress for the pigs and people involved.

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