Gerard Prinsen continues his blog series considering the patterns found in the interviews undertaken for the social science strand of LLH’s meat risks project.

Preparing meat in a butcher shop in rural Moshi. Image: Gerard Prinsen

When we asked butchers and eatery owners in Arusha about the difficult conditions they face in keeping the meat they sell safe to eat, a first analysis of the answers showed a two-way split.

About half said they experienced no difficulties at all, or they mentioned difficulties considered only marginally or indirectly related to food safety – those such as problems with government officials, staff turnover, low profits or high taxes. For example, one interviewee said: “There are several challenges here. A customer may pop in without money … promising to bring the money the next day but never re-appearing.”

The other half said they did face conditions that may place the safety of their meat at risk, with factors mentioned including a lack of water, lack of washrooms, no electricity and dust from passing traffic.

This approximate 50:50 pattern was the same across all of the four groups into which we divided our 64 interviewees: urban butchers, rural butchers, urban eateries and rural eateries.

When is a difficulty perceived as a risk?

Sink in an urban Moshi butchery. Image: Gerard Prinsen

Another approximate 50:50 split occurred across these four groups relating to whether the interviewees mentioned conditions which may affect food safety. We identified from the interviews four conditions that may affect food safety: no running water, no power, power but frequent power cuts, and poor infrastructures.

However, these conditions were not always related by the interviewee themselves to a difficulty in keeping meat safe.

So, for example, while one rural butcher said: “There are no challenges hindering us from doing business and ensuring provision of safe meat. We don’t have electricity, but what do we need it for? We don’t sell meat at night. If meat remains unsold, we store it in our boss’s refrigerator at home,” another expressed dissatisfaction with the same situation: “The major problem is lack electricity. Electricity would allow me to transfer my refrigerator from home to the butchery.”

And while one interviewee said the power cuts experienced in their urban butcher’s were “OK”, another described power rationing as a “major problem” affecting business.

Overall then, taking into account that some half of meat sellers note conditions that potentially make it difficult to keep meat safe and some half of these believe there are actual risks, the findings suggests that only a minority of interviewees believe they face difficulties in keeping meat safe.

However, it may be that the question, “What difficulties do butchers/meat-sellers face in keeping meat safe to eat?” is a difficult one given that, as answers to another question covered in an earlier blog reveal, many butchers aim to slaughter only as much as they can sell in one day.


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