The right cut The scarier the headlines, the more analysis of our meat suppliers needed
The regulation of meat shops in the city isn’t just a clean cut issue
The Kolkata meat scandal is still sending painful punches to T-bone of the meat industry of southern India, as well as somewhat diminishing the appetites of several meat lovers. After all, 20000kg of rotting meat is pretty hard to miss. So has this changed the way Hyderabadis buy meat?
Earlier this year, GHMC joined forces with meat shop owners and started offering cash prizes through a lucky draw to those using reusable bags while shopping for mutton, chicken and the likes. The initiative aims to further a greener way to purchase meat as part of their anti-polythene drive, which isn’t a bad idea at all. But soon, the cash prizes have to end and people should want to employ such a behaviour rather than for profit.
There are also active campaigns in the city; FIAPO (Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation) works towards a better environment for legal meat shops and consumers. They’ve observed the unwarranted injection of chemicals into meat which is sold off to unassuming consumers who then suffer the consequences.
N Prashanth, who joined the organisation a few weeks ago, explains that FIAPO will be approaching various meat shops in the city which may not have licenses, adding, “There are more unlicensed shops than one realises, about two or three in each neighbourhood. We are an NGO so when we approach these places and ask for their licenses, we get one of two reactions: if the place does have a license, they show us, but if they don’t, then they get angry and defensive.”
There doesn’t seem to be much to worry about in Hyderabad though; in such a meat-loving city, it’s almost a rite of passage to have that one butcher who delivers the best possible product.
Fifty six-year-old Shyam Kumar who resides near Hitec City drives once a week all the way to Malakpet at 6 am to get the first fresh cuts of mutton from Premier Meat Shop and Chicken Centre located on Mumbai Highway. “My family used to come here for generations since I was in eighth grade. Different generations come here and the place is run by different generations — the father and his sons,” he explains, adding “Each time I visit, they give me exactly want I want, whether it’s kaala or chops. And if I don’t get here early, everything is sold out.”
Thanks to the convenience of platforms such as Licious and Big Basket, there doesn’t seem to be much of an impact on those who trust the freshness of these providers.
Licious head honcho Joe Manavalan, explains that the growth of a platform like Licious is helpful in a country where people are constantly moving. When one moves to a new city, they tend to rely on brands for certain products but when it’s something like meat or fresh produce, there needs to be a build-up of trust, and online platforms which promise the provision of the best are everywhere you go — all one needs is a valid postcode.
“We work with farmers, feeder farms and processing centres, just to make sure every stage of the production chain is right. Poultry in India is advanced with the popular concept of e-farms where even air is controlled to monitor the health of the chickens. But lamb and sea fish are tough because their environments aren’t under our control, but in the coming year, we are looking to home in on that. With lamb, farmers who make an art of keeping the animal healthy and butchers who observe the meat is aged properly are a dream, and I fully support these vendors;they’re a cornerstone of such a huge industry.”
Joe adds that many of Licious’ advancements come from a close study of meat shops which may not follow regulation. He asserts, “Some butchers, in a rush to serve the customer, don’t wait to age the meat in that vital stage for rigor mortis.”
Post-mortem muscle chemistry, in which muscle naturally converts to meat, is extremely important, which is another reason why the licensing of meat shops is a serious issue.