London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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West Ham 1953

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for West Ham]

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MEAT INSPECT ION IN SLAUGHTERHOUSES.
(By H.E.Bywater, M.R.C.V.S., F.R. San.I., Veterinary Officer).
Three private slaughterhouses continued to operate during the year 1953 for the
production of non-rationed meat. The slaughter of animals, the flesh of which was subject
to the rationing laws, ceased within the Borough in 1940 when the Minister of Food assumed
responsibility for the issue of rationed meat. With the advent of derationing it is to be
anticipated that the slaughterhouses will revert to the slaughter of all those animals the
flesh of which constitutes butchers' meat, and the slaughter of horses will materially
decrease, although it is considered that since a market has been created for horse flesh,
there will still be some, although probably a diminished, demand for this type of meat.
The more plentiful supplies of normal butchers' meat, which have been available to the
public during the year under review, have resulted in a falling off of the numbers of
horses slaughtered for meat and no doubt, to some extent, the falling horse population has
also contributed to the smaller numbers slaughtered, but this latter factor is not so
important as the greater availability of normal butchers' meat.
The increased amount of fats which have appeared on the market since the war, has
resulted in a demand for meat of less fat content to that which obtained during the war
years, and this has been reflected In the condition of the horses slaughtered. The public
now demand horse flesh of leaner properties than formerly.
The Veterinary Department, which is responsible for meat Inspection in the slaughtering
establishments, examined 9,585 horses and 57 goats during the year under review as
compared with 14,561 and 650 animals respectively for 1952. Great importance is attached
to ante-mortem examination of all animals and the conditions under which they are kept
whilst awaiting slaughter. Pre-slaughter examination probably accounts for the fact that
it was only necessary totally to reject seven horse carcases. Horses are, in general,
found to be healthy and free from disease when killed, provided a rigid ante-mortem
supervision is exercised. Local conditions, such as oedema, slight bruises and tumours
are met with whilst parasitic conditions - particularly associated with the liver - remain
at a high level. Oedema and bad setting was responsible for the total rejection of seven
goat carcases. Parasitic conditions of the liver in the goat, as in the horse, are not
infrequently met with.
The freedom of the horse and goat from tuberculosis Infection is well known and in
no instance was this disease encountered in any of the animals slaughtered during the year
under review.
The administration of the Diseases of AnimalsAct, and the numerous Orders made
thereunder, is also a respohsibility of the Veterinary Department and covers, amongst
other duties, the transit of animals to the slaughterhouses.
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