Okapuka closed to protect consumers: DVS

24 Sep 2016 15:20pm
WINDHOEK, 24 SEP (NAMPA) – The indefinite closure of the Okapuka feedlot is in the interest of public health and to protect the meat industry, Chief Veterinary Officer Milton Maseke said on Friday.
He said this during a media briefing in reference to the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS)’s closure of the feedlot after some cattle there tested positive twice for Zeranol in a period of one year.
“In international markets such as the European Union (EU) the administration of Zeranol is completely banned both for growth promotional and therapeutic use.
“This means, any concentration, even very small amounts are not safe for human consumption. As such, any level detected is significant and must be dealt with,” said Maseke on behalf of the DVS in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
Despite its positive effect on the growth of animals, Zeranol has negative effects on the health of humans such as the development of breast cancer, infertility, prostate cancer and hormonal imbalances when the meat is consumed. It is also banned in the EU, one of Meatco’s biggest meat importers.
“This is not the first time the feedlot was put under quarantine, making the company 'repeat violators',” said Maseke.
The feedlot belongs to the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco).
Four meetings were held with both Meatco management and board members where all the issues were raised and a way forward to ensure the company address the problem.
He said an action plan was agreed upon to ensure the Zeranol problem is addressed in the shortest possible time to limit the unwanted financial implications whilst marinating the credibility and repute of the livestock sector of Namibia and most importantly not put the consumers’ lives in danger.
Meanwhile, at a media conference on Thursday, Meatco Chief Executive Officer Vekuii Rukoro said the decision taken by the DVS is harsh and excessive, adding it will have dire consequences for producers as well.
“Farmers are no longer bringing cattle to the feedlot. This has serious implications not only for our farmers but also for the whole country. This feedlot is a lifeline for farmers and if the issue is not addressed as soon as possible, some farmers will go bankrupt,” he noted.
Rukoro warned that if the situation at the feedlot continues over the next eight months, some 500 workers could lose their jobs. Losses for the company over the period are estimated at N.dollars 140 million.