By Vanessa Akoth

There is a direct relationship between the quality of pork we consume and how pigs are raised in the farm, transported to and slaughtered in slaughter houses, a new study reveals.

The collaborative study released by World Animal protection, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), University of Liverpool and the University of Nairobi was conducted in a leading slaughterhouse in Nairobi between 5th January and 4th March 2021.

The study titled ‘Animal welfare and food safety in Nairobi pig value chain’ found that 25.83% of the pork produced by slaughterhouses within the study period was of poor quality. This was as a result of three main reasons.

 In the slaughter houses, the stunning voltage was found to be 0.3-0.4 Amperes against the internationally recommended 1.3 Amperes. Almost 99% of pigs were poorly stunned.

The study which collected blood and tissue samples further found out that 52% of the pigs were kept for longer than 24 hours between time of purchase and slaughter, leading to the further degradation of the meat quality.

Improperly stunned animals end up being bled when still alive, able to feel pain and struggle. As the animal is still conscious and normally breathing, it inhales blood from the cut site (throat region) into the lungs. Thus lowering the meat quality, giving a poor aesthetic appearance and shortens the shelf life of the meat.

Proper restraining of pigs during stunning process ensures the rods are placed on the right site and also prevents electric shock to humans.

Also, 20% of the pigs studied were mixed from different farms, leading to fighting as the animals tried to establish a social order resulting in injuries. Almost a third (27.7 %) of the pigs were poorly transported for example, tied to a motorbike causing further injuries which ultimately affect the quality of meat.

Strapping pigs onto motorbikes and overcrowding causes injuries, such as lacerations, bruises and fractures leading to down grading of the meat, which translates to reduced income/profit to the farmer or trader.

Keeping the pigs for a longer time than 18 hours without food and water leads to the animal utilizing its energy reserves to sustain normal body functions causing weight loss hence reduced meat to sell.

Meat obtained from a stressed pig tends to lose excess water as compared to non-stressed pigs. The meat weighs less leading to less income/profit.