Meat Board Seal of Quality guarantee to customers
“The programme is aimed at strengthening consumer trust in the hygiene and quality of locally produced and sold beef, lamb and pork.”
Speaking at the official ceremony to introduce the new seal, Hannes Kellerman from the Meat Board’s meat classification division said consumers are confronted with various alternatives from different origins to choose from on a daily basis and they expect their food to be safe. “However, in the absence of credible food safety signals consumers are facing uncertainties. When consumers have doubts about the meat they want to buy, they have the right not to buy. A well-informed consumer will never knowingly consume unsafe meat.”
Kellerman said safety is a non-negotiable product attribute. “Meat is a highly perishable product and if not hygienically treated, it could cause several food-borne diseases which can be detrimental to the human health. The seal of quality will confirm that the product has been derived from an approved abattoir and that the meat has been checked by a qualified meat inspector who declared it fit for human consumption. Customers will thus be able to purchase their meat with the greatest of confidence.”
The Meat Board said Namibia is a net exporter of red meat with eight export-approved abattoirs and approximately 64 small B- and C-class slaughtering facilities that contribute to the local daily supply of fresh meat to local consumers. “Locally and abroad, Namibia carries the name as a country which produces meat of exceptional quality and the seal of quality will promote and support the good name of the industry.” Besides the concerns about safety from local consumers, Namibia is visited by thousands of tourists each year who also want to know where they can buy good-quality meat. “Consumer loyalty should be maintained by emphasising product integrity,” Kellerman said.
The Meat Chronicle reported that the seal of quality will not only guarantee product safety, it will also give the assurance that the highest animal welfare standards were adhered to and that animals were raised and treated according to the Farm Assured Namibian Meat (FANMeat) principles. This includes being raised free from growth stimulants, antibiotics and other harmful substances.
The slaughtering facilities from where the meat is sourced are audited annually according to a list of strict food safety and hygiene requirements. The meat must score at least 80% to receive certification. Audits will be conducted by competent persons assigned by the Meat Board saying that a list of participating butcheries and retailers will be published in the local media regularly.
While the campaign is to be rolled out in Windhoek at first, all Namibian meat and retail outlets will qualify to participate in the programme on a voluntary basis.
Obtaining first-hand information on the local meat industry and meat processing facilities, a delegation appointed by the Botswana Minister of Agriculture, Hon Christiaan de Graaff, consisting of officials from the Botswana government and the Botswana Meat Commission visited the Namibian Meat Board. The delegation visited, among others, the Meatco abattoirs, the Witvlei abattoir, the Directorate of Veterinary Services and spoke to agricultural unions. Although the meeting with the Meat Board discussed aspects of the Namibian meat industry, it focused more on cattle identification and traceability and the distribution of ear tags on behalf of the meat industry by the Meat Board. “It is interesting to note how often the progressiveness of the Namibian meat industry attracts visitors from especially Africa to establish or adapt their own industries accordingly” said the Meat Board.
(Information provided by the Namibian Meat Board)