Johannesburg - The possibility of finding human DNA in meat products was quite likely as abattoir workers were continuously cutting themselves during production‚ exports told Parliament’s portfolio committee on Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries on Tuesday.
This emerged during briefings from the Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries‚ Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry‚ as well as the universities of Stellenbosch and Western Cape.
University of Stellenbosch professor of meat sciences Louw Hoffman said in reply to an MP’s question that “workers are often cutting themselves. If we had done DNA tests we probably would have found traces of human DNA in the products.”
Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry & Fisheries deputy director-general Botlhe Modisane said: “It is possible that (if tested) we could find traces of human DNA in meat. However‚ even if we do find human DNA‚ it does not mean we are eating human flesh.”
The committee was conducting the hearing in response to the recent horse flesh scandal in Europe‚ the fact that cabinet had decided SA’s own meat production industry should be investigated and some local scandals regarding the mislabelling of products.
Modisane told the committee that the real issue in Europe and locally was that products were often not labelled properly and that so far there was no real health risk.
The committee also heard that often traces of animal other than those indicated were found in samples used in research done by the two universities.
University of the Western Cape associate professor of genetics Maria D’Amato said she had found traces of the DNA of four different animals in one beef sausage.
However‚ she said that none of the animals were illegal in terms of what may be slaughtered and consumed.
This prompted the MPs to demand that the three government departments formulate plans to work closer together on the issue.
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