In the aftermath of the hullabaloo surrounding formalin laced fish in Nagaland, food hygiene and safety seem to be at the forefront of administrative action.
Following the highly publicised measures taken against the sale of ‘tainted’ fish and crustacean products in the state’s markets, the Chümoukedima civil administration last week decided to come down on open butcher shops in a particular stretch of Dimapur district.
In a notice issued on July 7, the Extra Assistant Commissioner for Chümoukedima informed that “a decision has been taken to close down all open butcher shops on the roadside along National Highway 29 from Purana Bazaar to Chümoukedima.” The reason cited was that “sale of any types of meat should be carried out only in a well maintained and hygienic enclosure/chamber inside a proper building/house or market.”
The decision was reportedly taken during a joint meeting of civil administration Chümoukedima, all village council chairmen and Head GBs along the National Highway from Purana Bazaar to Chümoukedima on June 29.
While these efforts and more are admirable at least on the surface, it is also fair to question whether decisions such as the one made on open butcher shops will truly be effective in realising the goal of food safety.
The notice went on to inform establishments engaging in selling mutton, beef, fish, pork, chickens etc. on the roadside in “open sheds” to make “necessary arrangement of shifting within 15 days, failing which they were warned that legal action would be taken.
The “necessary arrangements” referred to in the notice seemingly point to hygienic enclosed chambers inside a building.
Unhygienic butcher shops have been an almost unnerving reality for people in the state. While the sights at some of these shops that dot not just the national highway, but across the state, can be revolting to new eyes, people here have become at least aesthetically immune or accustomed to them.
Now the question is, how many of these open butcher stalls would truly comply with specific food safety directives once they move out of the specified area? Further, the notice in itself seems to be indecisive, only asking the butchers to “make necessary arrangements of shifting,” while not containing any language enforcing the actual food safety regulations.
The notice in itself only serves to rid the sight of unhygienic butcher stalls for passing vehicles, while doing nothing to actually make butchery hygienic.
It is a fact that public food safety and hygiene has become an issue of serious concern. While efforts to address it are admirable, it is also pertinent to ensure that such actions are sincere; and not mere methods of gentrification.
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