All “bushmeat” sellers, including those who ply their trade along the major trunk roads, are required by law to produce permits obtained from a veterinary inspector before they can sell to the public.
The permits will authenticate the meat as wholesome and fit for consumption.
Disclosing this to the Daily Graphic in an interview, the Registrar of the Veterinary Council of Ghana, Mr Kingsley Mickey Aryee, said bushmeat sales had been included in a new law, Meat Inspection Regulations, 2020, which came into force on July 20, 2020, because research had shown that most game was poisoned.
“It is a very important thing and we insisted on putting in [the law] bushmeat because we have done some research, which found out that most game — about 65 to 75 per cent — have been poisoned.
“They [hunters] poison the animals before they use sticks to hit them to give the carcasses some semblance of being hunted,” he said.
He added that veterinary officers were able to detect the poison in the carcasses by their smell and other investigations conducted.
Mr Aryee said that had informed the decision to hold a stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting to rope in dealers in bushmeat to adequately organise them and fashion out the best way to engage in the inspection of the game before they were sold.
Throwing more light on the sensitisation programme, which will come on the heels of a consultative engagement with stakeholders, he said it would be held in zones.
He said the public would participate in the sensitisation exercise to ensure that they knew what to demand and look out for when buying bushmeat.
Also of importance to the veterinary service, he said, was where animals were slaughtered across the country, which had to be certified as fit for purpose.
That was because not all places could pass for an abattoir, he added.
Citing an example, Mr Aryee said during his stay in Half Assini in the Western Region years ago, he noticed that animals were slaughtered at the beach, for the simple reason that there was abundance of water at the beach and the belief that the salty water could kill any germs in the carcasses.
That took place, despite the fact that a modern slaughter house had been put up by the local assembly, he said.
He said currently Ghana had only three abattoirs located along the Accra-Tema Motorway in Tema, Kumasi and a private facility known as Jfamco in Accra.
“Abattoirs are automated or semi-automated, and those are actually the standard. Abattoirs have proper inlets and outlets, and when you are designing an abattoir, you have to be very particular about the inlet and the outlet,” he said.
He explained that the two features were essential because the inlet was the dirty area, while the outlet was the clean area that also made it easy to inspect the carcasses to examine the lymph nodes for diseases that might make the meat unwholesome and unfit for human consumption.
He recommended a documentary on what went on at the abattoir to inform meat consumers about the kind of things that took place there.
“I tell you: if you are going to buy meat, look out for meet that has been stamped,” he added.
Mr Aryee urged the public to, before buying meat, ask the seller to produce a permit and also look out for meat that had been stamped to make sure it was wholesome.