Mr Daniel Amlalo, Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has called on stakeholders to support efforts by the Agency to stop the use of lorry tyres by butchers for the singeing of meat in the country.
He expressed concern about the growing rate of this harmful practice in the country, coupled with the increase in meat consumption.
Mr Amlalo made the call at a stakeholders meeting in Accra to discuss the health and environmental implications of the use of lorry tyres for meat singeing.
He noted that it was being practised in almost all abattoirs in the country with its serious health impact on butchers and consumers as well as global impact on the depletion of the ozone layer and climate change.
Mr Amlalo said in addition to the use of the lorry tyres for singeing of the meat, butchers operated under unhygienic conditions and handled the meat on the bare floor, thereby increasing the contamination with pathogens.
He cited the absence of modern abattoirs and facilities where gas could be used as a source of energy, as well as more butchers than the facilities, as the major cause of the practice.
Mr Amlalo urged all and sundry to come on board to evolve ways and strategies to stop this practice.
Mr Caesar Nyadedzor, Toxicologist at the Occupational and Environmental Health Unit of Ghana Health Service, said emissions from lorry tyres contained significant amounts of toxic substances which caused several illnesses.
He said some of the health effects of these substances included skin irritation, irritation of the eyes, respiratory diseases, asthma, respiratory track cancer, depression, headache, fatigue as well as low blood pressure (BP).
Mr Nyadedzor noted that most of the heavy metals in the tyres could lead to such chronic diseases as hypertension and renal disease.
However, he noted that although the health risk of the consumption of meat through such practice were not yet known, inhaled toxic substances from the practice had been found to be mutagenic which could lead to birth defects, miscarriages as well as cancer.
Mr Ebenezer Appah Sampong, Director, Audit and Assessment Department of EPA said a committee for education and awareness creation including all stakeholders as well as the media would be formed to undertake intensified education against the practice.
He said the committee would develop a comprehensive action plan which would help identify various actions to be taken to help solve the problem.
Chief Alhaji Issifu Dantankwa, General Secretary of the Butchers Association of Ghana called on the law enforcement agencies in the country to endeavour to implement the laws vigorously by administering the appropriate punishment to such people since the Association could do very little without their support.
Singeing of meat is the use of lorry tyres to smoke meat as a way of preparing it for the market and propping up the hides of sheep, cows or goats to process what is known locally as ‘wele’.