Health Alert: Condemned chickens on sale in Harare

Health Alert

Reports confirm that condemned chickens dumped at Pomona dumpsite in Harare found their way into the market and were being sold to the unsuspecting public especially in the high density areas. The public is therefore being urged to be on the lookout and avoid buying chickens from unregistered vendors or ‘backyard butcheries’. Some unregistered caterers have even gone to the extent of cooking the chickens and serving meals to clients. Eating such chickens exposes the public to health risks such as food poisoning and cholera.

Chickens at breeding sites sometimes die in large numbers due to disease outbreaks, adverse weather conditions or poor breeding methods. Animal and health experts sometimes condemn such chickens as unfit for human consumption and under normal circumstances incineration (burning) or burying underground would be the recommended disposal options. However, due to costs and failure to adhere to laws and ethical business practices, some breeders do not comply.

In this particular incident, some breeders in Harare disposed the condemned chickens at the dumpsite, against council by-laws in place.  Vagrants and other unscrupulous ‘businesspeople’ collected and re-packaged the chickens for resale to the public.

Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme was quoted in media last week confirming the incident and advised residents of Harare to be on the look out and avoid buying chickens from unregistered vendors or selling points. Mr Chideme also assured the public that council was working towards ensuring the situation is brought under control and the remaining chickens at the dumpsite are burnt.

My hope is that the relevant authorities are resolving this case to safeguard the public against the health hazards associated with consuming condemned chickens especially following the recent outbreak of bird flu in July this year at one of Irvines farm on the outskirts of Harare.

Way Forward:

To avoid similar incidences in future, I recommend that:

  • ongoing public awareness by the City fathers and related authorities on safe disposal methods for condemned chickens. Most people, especially small scale producers, may be unaware.
  • responsible authorities should strengthen the monitoring mechanisms on the disposal or movement of chickens especially at large breeding sites.
  • the public should have easy access of the by-laws and statutory instruments governing poultry production in the city. Such by-laws can be uploaded on Council and other related websites or even made available in major retail shops for a small cost.
  • stiffer penalties (which should be publicised) should be levied against people caught selling condemned chickens.
  • stiffer penalties (which should be publicised) should be levied against businesspeople failing to comply with related by-laws or statutory instruments on poultry production.
  • proper controls at dumping sites should be put in place. In this particular incident, the breeders should not have been allowed to enter the premises and dump the chickens in the first place.

What do you think should be done to avoid a similar incidence? Post your thoughts in the comment box below.

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