On Tuesday we published a picture of people shying away from the camera after our photographer chanced upon them scavenging for dumped chicken carcasses at Crest Breeders premises in Waterfalls. The sight was shocking, revolting and highly disturbing. It is totally unacceptable that such a big brand can be so negligent towards the environment and indirectly towards human life.
After we published a picture of the dump yard one official from Crest Breeders who refused to be identified claimed that there was no such thing as they have proper disposal sites.
A worker claimed that the poultry producer was dumping chickens dying from starvation, itself a serious infraction as it is tantamount to cruelty to animals.
Subsequent calls to get an official position hit a brick wall as the responsible people were said to be in a meeting and would issue a statement as soon as they were done. Are we to assume that the meeting is still in progress three days later?
We can only conclude that these replies were transparent evasion tactics meant to stonewall a matter of urgent public interest.
Crest Breeders needs to explain the evidence caught up in our camera lens and exposed to the world, even if it is to admit wrongdoing and reveal their action plan for dealing with the problem.
There is no denying that mound of chickens lying there in the open near a water source.
It is a fact that any substance incorrectly disposed of becomes an environmental problem.
But the problem is worsened when it is animal tissue left to rot in the open as it becomes a biological hazard. The dead chickens should be incinerated.
The outbreak of the H1N1 bird flu which affects humans a few years back showed that it is possible for diseases to be vectored from birds to humans.
So there is a need to worry about what Crest Breeders discards because it may contain bird flu, and it may develop through incubation in carcasses exposed to heat and humidity which typifies the summer season we are in.
As if that were not enough, chance “entrepreneurs” with no regard for human life then scavenge in the dump site and retrieve the dead chickens for sale to unsuspecting members of the public who are scrounging for the cheapest meal that they can get.
This expose could not have come at a worse time.
Recently there were media reports suggesting that imported chickens from Brazil are being preserved with substances unsuitable for human consumption.
Although no concrete evidence was presented, public perception has been coloured by the assertion.
Previously there were reports that South African frozen chicken products destined for the Zimbabwean market were being recycled by marinating in brine.
Therefore Zimbabweans have come to believe that the best chicken is home-grown.
Although imported chicken products are cheaper, most people prefer the locally-reared chickens, which are perceived to be more flavourful and healthier.
For one of our own poultry industry giants to appear to be so negligent about standard waste disposal procedures becomes deeply unsettling. The next logical question is that if they cannot take care of their garbage, what else are they doing wrong in coming up with the product that ends up on the supermarket shelves?
We strongly believe that Crest Breeders owes consumers the truth, even if it is not palatable.
They must explain the mound in their backyard.
Should we now remove chicken from our menus? That may be the only option as imported products are undesirable and our local producers can no longer guarantee that their birds are being reared and prepared according to acceptable standards.
The dumpsite also seems to indicate that besides Crest Breeders, there are other players sleeping on the play field. Where is the
Environmental Management Agency?
They are the statutory authority empowered to police the waste disposal operations of the corporate citizens.