Chicken traders fret over ban

PETALING JAYA - Chicken sellers are concerned about costs and the freshness of meat following a government ban on poultry slaughtering in markets under local authorities.

"Chickens will be slaughtered (elsewhere) and definitely kept in chillers before being sent to us. How can we be sure that they are fresh and not contaminated?" said A.T. Yee, 62.

Yee, who sells chicken at the Jalan Othman market here, said customers frequented wet markets to buy fresh chickens.

She foresaw that such slaughtered chickens would be at least 24 hours old if they were sent from a different location to the respective market.

"Our customers are concerned about quality and want to be certain of its freshness. They are not going to buy if it's not fresh," said Yee.

She was also sceptical whether supply could be delivered on time.

On Tuesday, the National Council for Local Government announced the ban, saying that it was to avoid infectious diseases caused by slaughtering activities, besides minimising the number of cockroaches, flies and rats in the markets.

The move was also to ensure that poultry was slaughtered in an appropriate manner as well as in accordance to the halal certification from the Islamic Development DepartĀ­ment (Jakim) and state Islamic religious councils.

Another chicken seller, K.M. Lau, 42, was worried that the move would lead to an increase in the price of chicken, perhaps by at least RM1 (S$0.38).

He also asked where the slaughtering would take place.

"If it is going to be far away from the markets, we may not get our chickens on time," said Lau.

Chicken seller Raj Naagapan, 45, said pre-slaughtered chicken would attract flies when left in the open.

"My customers want me to slaughter their choice of chicken.

"They would often ask how long the chicken had been there in the open if it was slaughtered earlier," Raj said.

Chicken seller Zamry Shahbhari, 46, said if the chicken was slaughtered elsewhere, he would not know whether it had been done properly.

At present, he said chicken sellers could keep the live chicken in cages if they were unsold.

"We can't keep the unsold slaughtered chicken. What are we going to do with the balance?" he asked.

Chicken seller Azman Mohamad, 35, said he was concerned about the slaughtering methods.

"We have heard of cases where chickens were drowned in water or electrocuted to weaken them. We don't want to encourage such methods," he said.

Housewife P.C. Chan, 52, said she often visited the wet market to buy fresh chicken, "not those sold at supermarkets because they are refrigerated".

Another consumer suggested that the Government should instead focus on educating market traders to practise better hygiene.