Dhaka, Bangladesh — Consumption of vegetable and fruits has been a huge concern for the people of Bangladesh for the past year. Usage of formalin and other medicines has also raised health concerns in the case of fish as well. The latest concern is red meat. Harmful drugs are being widely used to fatten the cattle quickly for Eid-ul-Azha. Considering the after effects, the government has undertaken an initiative to identify the unnaturally fattened cows.
Eid-ul-Azha has its own distinct festive image when Muslims like to go to the cattle market and choose their own sacrificial animal. This practice has become an inseparable part of our tradition. From the purchase of the sacrificial animal to Qurbani and meat distribution, everything has to be done in a halal way. Therefore, regardless of social class, every Muslim tries to ensure that the meat is halal till the end. This year it is natural that the buyers will also take extra measures to ensure that the cattle were naturally raised and fed.
Greedy cattle owners are feeding the cows dexamethasone and similar medicines to increase their appetite, which makes them gain more weight in a short span of time. Other than these, the cows are being injected with steroids like Diclofenac, Decasone, Oradexon, Betneval, and Adam 33. These drugs damage their heart, kidney and liver and cause accumulation of fluid in the body, making them look fatter. Considering the risks, pharmaceutical companies banned Diclofenac and other medicines that are harmful for animals in 2010.
According to health experts, this excessive use of medicines is not only harmful for the animals but also has a negative impact on human health. Though there are different opinions among scientist regarding the consumption of steroid injected meat and its effect on the human body, some research results showed that it might cause hormonal imbalance in pregnant women. Males also face some significant health risks, and young children reach puberty earlier. These can be avoided if there are proper inspections while purchasing the livestock. One can easily identify the animals that were injected with steroids or other medications by pressing the cow’s skin, which will indicate the presence of fluids. The animals fed on drugs are also more lethargic than normal cattle.
If the Qurbani is done in a proper way, all the toxic fluid comes out with the blood. Therefore, the halal process is healthy. One needs to ensure two things for a halal Qurbani — firstly, sacrifice the animal in the name of Allah, and secondly, slaughtering the animal with a sharp knife and cutting all the veins properly.
The government recently issued directives to the authorities to take action against illegal cattle fattening. The High Court has given an order to form a specialised committee to take actions against the perpetrators who are causing health threats. This committee, consisting of seven senior officials of the government — including secretary of home affairs, secretary of commerce, secretary of food and supplies — along with reputed health and nutrition specialists and veterinarians will monitor the situation and initiate action plan.
But the concern is that, though Bangladesh already has strict law against such acts, some money-hungry businessmen are violating the laws. People can inspect, judge and purchase their desired sacrificial animal for Eid-ul-Azha, but what about the rest of the year?
There is no way to tell whether the meat in the butcher shops is from normally raised cattle or not. Therefore, along with the government, the authorities concerned should form a monitoring board. City Corporations and local governments can also play a significant role here. The number of butcher shops authorised by the City Corporations should be increased, along will proper inspection. Butcher shop owners will need to have the quality of the meat verified by an authorised person prior to selling it. Both anti-mortem and post-mortem should be done properly, and the number of inspectors has to be increased. This will raise the confidence of the customers, and they will be satisfied with the
Inspection during Eid-ul-Azha is not going to protect the people all around the year. Therefore, proper regulations and guidelines for the meat business are much needed. Once the business takes a proper form, buyers will be able to purchase quality healthy meat throughout the year. Both government and private initiative is necessary to modernise livestock production, and to reduce and regulate drug usage.
Originally published on www.thedailystar.net