Bahrain poultry firm told to step up safety
Manama, March 6, 2014
Bahrain's main supplier of fresh chicken has been ordered to improve hygiene and safety standards or face closure.
It follows a visit to the Delmon Poultry Company's hatchery and slaughterhouse yesterday, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The inspection was prompted after 31 poultry farms went on strike on Tuesday in protest at the quality of chicks they were being supplied by the firm.
"A committee including our own vets went to visit the hatchery and slaughterhouse yesterday," said Professor Mohamad Foda, agricultural consultant to Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Under-Secretary Shaikh Khalifa bin Isa Al Khalifa.
"They will check what is happening over there and make recommendations based on that.
"We (the ministry) are in the process of solving the problem.
"When we met with the farmers, they explained issues with vaccinations - about the needles used, the poor conditions the animals are in and the lack of hygiene both in the hatchery and the slaughterhouse.
"This is an issue that doesn't only affect farmers, but the public as a matter of food safety.
"The farmers also said there were problems with the transportation of the chickens - saying that the trucks are old, not well maintained or cleaned properly."
Prof Foda said the ministry was now stepping up its monitoring of Delmon Poultry Company.
"We need to increase the safety standards there - not only to decrease the mortality rate of chicks, but for public health," he added.
"If needed, we will close the slaughterhouse and hatchery if they don't fix the problems.
"As for the strike - it is impossible to reach a level where there will be no fresh chicken in the county. We will not let it happen."
Sources told the GDN that a top official working at Delmon Poultry Company had resigned over the current crisis, although that could not be confirmed.
The GDN yesterday reported a strike by 31 of the country's 33 poultry farms - which receive hatchlings from Delmon Poultry Company, raise them and then sell them back once they are ready for consumption.
However, farmers have been told that to avoid breaching their contracts they must receive chicks earmarked for them for the next three weeks.
At that point, they can then stop receiving hatchlings, which means there will be nobody to raise them and result in a shortage of fresh chicken in the market.
Unionists representing the striking farms yesterday sent a letter to Delmon Poultry Company asking it to stop importing eggs on their behalf.
Farmers complain chicks supplied by Delmon Poultry Company are often sick, weak and vulnerable and die within days due to alleged unhygienic conditions.
The farmers' spokesman Jameel Salman, owner of Bahrain's biggest poultry farm Al Safa, said farmers were united and would not back down in their demands.
"There are 33 farms in Bahrain and I am speaking on behalf of 31 of those who say they will strike until there is no fresh chicken in Bahrain - unless something is done about Delmon Poultry Company," said Salman.
Officials at Delmon Poultry Company were again unavailable for comment yesterday. - TradeArabia News Service