Expert Warns on Meat Consumption, Hidden Dangers

Kenny Folarin, Abuja

Meat, commonly found as daily consumption despite its high price still its way on every Nigerian homes irrespective of class or status.

Nigerians places more value on meat and would find it insulting if one is served without meat, despite age range of when to stop eating meat “red meat”, many still believe that as long as the teeth remains, there is nothing wrong eating meat.

Sadly, many do not know the health status of cows or goat being slaughtered for sale at market.

Cows are being brought mostly from northern part of the country and sold to different part of the country, most of the demand is met by pastoralists from the ethnic Fulani group, who follow time-honoured techniques of raising cattle, driving them south to pastures and taking them to market.

According to government estimates, Nigeria consumes 360,000 tonnes of beef each year, accounting for half of all West Africa.

In per-capita terms, consumption is low compared with advanced economies, but it is growing fast, and expected to quadruple by 2050.

As at 2017, Lagos alone consumes 6,000 cows a day, minus the figure at abattoirs, not figure from birthday parties and burial ceremonies and so on. Imagine what Port Harcourt consumes; or Umuahia, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna and Maiduguri.

According to Statista, Revenue in the meat segment amounts to US$30.86bn in 2022 and the market is expected to grow by 8.79% (2022-2027).

Surprisingly, pork is mostly eaten globally with about 36% followed by poultry (35 per cent), and cattle and goat (22 per cent).

While Nigerians continues to enjoy the beef, Registered Nutritionist/ Dietician, Mrs Oluyemisi Akinsola in an exclusive Interview highlights red flags that Nigerians should look out for to know if they are eating a dead cow, dangers of eating and how it can be avoided.

Akinsola acknowledged that meat is a good source of protein with the simplest form as essential (amino acids), which also helps in building body muscles.

“It is a good source of minerals such as iron(helps prevent anaemia), zinc (important for body growth and maintenance), selenium ( an essential trace element that serves a variety of functions in your body)”

She added that It is also a good source of vitamins such as vitamin B6( for blood formation and energy metabolism), vitamin B12 (for blood formation and your brain and nervous system).

Meanwhile, Akinsola noted that meat consumption at a certain age is dependent on the meat type.

For 40years and above, she advised that the consumption of red and fatty meat be reduced and substituted for white meat (skinless chicken), games (rabbit, grasscutter etc), snail to mention a few.

She opined that meat preference over fish for Nigerians has to do with individual mentality. For some, meat consumers are seen to be a food of the affluence and also feel it is tastier than fish. For some, there are varieties (head, ribs, offals, hind, tail etc) that can be taken compared to fish.

Meanwhile, she noted that meat business is a good business as sellers will not want to be at loss of any cow, either sick or already dead, rather than dispose it would rather prefer it find its way into the market.

She disclosed that dead meat are dark red, with traces of blood in the muscle and the muscle tone will be firm when cooked or chewed.

“The health implication is that the dead meat is undergoing a level of deterioration producing harmful toxins which are detrimental to the health of the consumers”.

She advised that Government should put a workable checks in the abatoir at all times as can be done by posting quarantine officers permanently to the abatoir for monitoring.

“And, if per adventure an animal is sick or dies by any means, there should be proper documentation by the quarantine officer and an insurance should be put in place to help reimburse such cow/meat seller as the case may be, rather than allow them in the market again”.

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