Sanitary and Phytosanitary Certification System to Enhance Meat Export from Uganda

Objective

Uganda is one of the 102 member countries of the OIE that do not have FMD-free status. Uganda is implementing the OIE recommended Progressive Control Pathway (PCP) for FMD control to improve animal health status in the country. The country has also prepared and is implementing PPR control strategy.

Uganda acknowledges the risk of transmitting FMD to countries free from the disease movement through trade of livestock and animal products, and is accordingly taking extra precautions, along the livestock value chain to eliminate this risk. This system will ensure that Uganda produces higher quality, certified, disease-free meat to her trading partners.

The Veterinary Competent Authority will be responsible for guiding, supervising, enforcing and monitoring the implementation of this proposed certification system to ensure delivery of safe and quality meat to the market as highlighted here below.

key functions and outputs

Procurement of animals for slaughter

The Commissioner Animal Health (Veterinary Competent Authority) will participate in selection and approval of ranchers who will supply animals to the abattoir. The abattoir will sign agreements with the approved ranchers, stipulating the sanitary measures to be adhered to during the rearing of the animals. Such measures will include but not limited to;

  1. Schedule of vaccination of the animals against Foot and mouth disease (FMD), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, lumpy skin disease (LSD), Peste des petit ruminants (PPR) and others as directed by the destination country.
  2. Other biosecurity measures as may be directed by the destination country.

The abattoir will procure the animals to produce meat for export from FMD free farms/ranches (compartments) where routine vaccination against FMD, CBPP, LSD and PPR is conducted. The farms/ranches are approved by and are under the supervision of the Veterinary Competent Authority. As policy Uganda does not vaccinate against rift valley fever currently.

Pre-purchase inspection involving visual and physical evaluation of the animal to identify any conditions that may indicate disease or illness will be carried out. Prior to purchase, animals shall be visually inspected by competent veterinary practitioners for physical fitness, body condition, hair coat, alertness, salivation, eye discharge, mouth lesions, lameness, body temperature and any other abnormalities. The veterinary practitioner shall inspect each animal both at rest and in motion because certain abnormal signs, such as labored breathing, are easier to detect while the animals are at rest. Animals deemed healthy will be ear-tagged and issued a health certificate to allow them to move to the quarantine facility.

When the pre-purchase inspector suspects the presence of any of the diseases and symptoms mentioned above, s/he shall forthwith stop the purchase of the animal and in case of an emerging and re-emerging trade sensitive disease, the pre-purchase inspector informs the nearest representative of the Competent Authority for further action.

At the selection stage, animals would be ear-tagged.

Transportation of live animals

Immediately after selection, purchase and ear-tagging, animals will be transported to the quarantine facility using specially designed, approved, disinfected, and sealed vehicles which will follow recommended stock routes which are deemed safe at the time.

Animals will be loaded and unloaded humanely using appropriate loading and off-loading ramps. Animal transportation will be in accordance with guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) which were developed by the Veterinary Competent Authority prepared to guide the process.

Animals leaving purchase sites shall be accompanied by veterinary health certificates that will be provided by the public veterinary officer in the district of origin of the animals.

Vehicles shall be inspected and approved by the Competent Authority while animal handlers who accompany the animals will be subjected to routine health checks by the National health systems.

The vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected before loading and after off-loading

Quarantine

Quarantine facilities shall be subject to regular inspection, supervision and monitoring by the Competent Authority, that is Commissioner in charge of Animal Health in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

Animals will be held under quarantine for at least 30 days.

Upon arrival animals will be tested for FMD, and vaccinated against FMD, CBPP, RVF and LSD.  At day 14, animals will be re-tested for FMD; those that test positive will be removed from the facility and sold on domestic markets.  If any animals have clinical signs of FMD, the entire batch in the quarantine will be removed.

After 30 days the quarantine animals will be certified as “disease-free” and then transported to the abattoir.  All treatments will stop at the quarantine.

Abattoir

The Veterinary Competent Authority has already approved (03) abattoirs which were designed to international standards with adequate facilities to support implementation of Good Hygiene Practices (GHPs) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control points (HACCP).

The abattoirs include Pearl Meat Company Ltd. in Nakasongola, Sanga Meat Company Ltd. in Kiruhura and Egypt Uganda Food Security Company Ltd. in Luwero.

They are located away from residential areas in well drained areas free from flooding.

The animals are slaughtered according to Islamic rules in an official slaughter house (Abattoir) approved by the Competent Veterinary Authority and Uganda Halal Bureau.

Ante mortem inspection

Ante mortem inspection shall be conducted on live animals while in the lairage.

The purpose of ante-mortem inspection is to determine whether animal welfare has been compromised, and/or there is any sign of any condition which might adversely affect human or animal health, paying particular attention to zoonotic and notifiable diseases.

Overall responsibility of ante-mortem inspection rests with the Official Veterinarian who is assigned by the Competent Authority.

The ante-mortem inspection must take place within 24 hours of arrival at the slaughterhouse and less than 24 hours before slaughter. In some cases, ante mortem inspection may have to be repeated where necessary. The Official Veterinarian may require ante-mortem inspection at any other time.

Post Mortem Inspection

After complete evisceration and carcass splitting, post mortem inspection will be carried out by the Competent Authority.

The principal purpose of post mortem inspection is to supplement ante-mortem inspection in identifying diseases of public or animal health significance and monitoring animal welfare to remove meat that is unfit for human consumption.

Post-mortem inspection will be conducted by the Competent Authority to detect:

  • Diseases of public health significance;
  • Diseases of animal health significance;
  • Residues or contaminants in excess of the levels allowed by legislation;
  • Non-compliance with microbiological criteria;
  • Other factors which might require the meat to be declared unfit for human consumption or restrictions to be placed on its use;
  • Visible lesions that are relevant to animal welfare;
  • Evidence of animal welfare problems such as beating or long standing untreated injuries.

During post mortem inspection the carcass will be handled using sterilized instruments, where possible.

 

Carcass chilling

Carcasses shall go into the cooler as soon as possible and shall be as dry as possible. The purpose is to retard bacterial growth and extend the shelf-life. Chilling meat post-mortem from 40°C down to 0°C and keeping it cold gives it a shelf-life of up to three weeks, provided high standard of hygiene is observed during slaughter and dressing.

Carcasses shall be hanged on rails and never touch the floor.

To monitor the efficiency of cooling a probe thermometer (not glass), will be used to take the temperature deep inside the carcass.

The aim of cooling is to achieve a deep muscle temperature of 6–7°C within 28 to 36 hours for beef and 24 to 30 hours for sheep and goat carcasses to avoid rapid multiplication of bacteria deep in the meat and the off-odours and bone-taint that may result.

Finally, the carcass is submitted to maturation temperature below +2°C degree for a minimum period of 24 hours following slaughter.

 

Packaging

Processing and packaging will be supervised by the Competent Authority to minimize re-contamination. During cutting, boning, trimming, slicing, dicing, wrapping and packaging, the meat is maintained at not more than 3⁰C for offal and 7⁰C for other meat, by means of an ambient temperature of not more than 12⁰C or an alternative system that has an equivalent effect

The packaging material must be clean and approved for food/food grade and reduces contamination from airborne micro-organisms. High standards of hygiene will be applied in the cutting and packaging operations.

Meat shall be thoroughly cooled before packaging to help maintain a low temperature during its display life. As soon as it is cut and, where appropriate, packaged, the meat shall be chilled to 3⁰C for offal and 7⁰C for other meat.

A label based bar-coding identification system generated and referred to the RFID carried by the individual animal at the time of slaughter will be used to identify carcasses and cuts. The date of slaughtering and expiry date shall be indicated on each meat product batch.

Certifying Veterinarian

Certifying veterinarian shall be authorized by the Competent Authority of Uganda to inspect the meat and sign international veterinary certificates; i.e a veterinarian who have no conflict of interest in the commercial aspects of the animals or animal products being certified and is independent from the commercial parties.

Transportation of meat

Vehicles for transporting meat and carcasses are considered as an extension of the refrigerated storage. They will be approved by the Competent Authority. The aim is to maintain the meat temperature at or near 0°C. Meat will be chilled to 0°C before loading. Meat will then be hanged on rails in the vehicle. If stockinettes have to be put on carcasses they must be clean. Meat trucks shall not carry anything other than meat.

The temperature in these vans will be set and controlled to minimize temperature rise and to avoid condensation on the meat surface.

 

Record keeping

A system shall be put in place to ensure that the results of the whole certification process including ante and post mortem inspections are recorded accurately and can be identified clearly to the batch of animals or in some cases to the individual animal.