Thu, 03 Aug 2000

Stern action against boar meat vendors urged

JAKARTA (JP): City Council Commission B for economic affairs demanded the city administration on Wednesday to take stern action against vendors who sold wild boar meat as cheap beef at marketplaces in the capital.

Commission chairman Syarief Zulkarnaen said the City Animal Husbandry should involve the police in its follow-up of findings.

"City Animal Husbandry officials have to cooperate with the police in their efforts to crack the distribution network and find the masterminds," Syarief said at his office.

He said the wild boar meat being traded in several marketplaces in the city had raised public concern, especially for Muslims who are forbidden to consume wild game.

"It's scandalous and they (city officials) have to take immediate action because unregistered vendors who operate near the markets have been selling the meat for quite some time now," Syarief of the United Development Party (PPP) faction said.

Local beef is sold at Rp 25,000 (US$2.80) per kilogram, while imported beef costs Rp 20,000 at the marketplace.

Head of the Jakarta Animal Husbandry Agency, Edi Setiarto, warned the public on Monday about the wild boar meat, which is believed to have bypassed the inspection authorities.

A councillor said on Monday he had received information that wild boar meat was being sold at Pasar Minggu market and Pasar Senen market at Rp 15,000 per kilogram.

The agency conducted a market sweep at 11 p.m. on July 25 and nabbed vendors selling the cheap meat on Jl. Kelingkit in Tebet, South Jakarta. The agency seized 740 kilograms of wild boar meat during the sweep.

Councillor Ugiek Soegihardjo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) shared Syarief's opinion, saying that the police had to deal immediately with the vendors.

"Selling wild boar meat as cheap beef for personal gain is treacherous," he said on Wednesday.

No reports

He said the agency had to carefully examine the quality of cheap meat to decide whether it was safe for human consumption.

"We haven't received any reports of residents having health problems after consuming the meat sold in the streets. But the agency has to examine the quality of the confiscated meat," he said, adding that it was necessary to take immediate measures should any health problems arise in the future.

He suggested, however, that if the meat was proven to be safe for consumption, the administration had to tell the vendors to run their business lawfully and transparently.

"They (vendors) sell meat to earn a living. And while pork is widely sold at marketplaces, they must tell customers they are selling pork or wild boar, but not beef," he said.

"Until the officials complete their investigation, it is safer to buy beef and pork from registered vendors."

Separately, several vendors at Pasar Minggu market and Pasar Senen market admitted that there was a possibility that a mix of wild boar meat and beef was being sold by irresponsible and mostly unregistered vendors on the streets.

"But we (registered vendors) would not dare to sell the meat as most of us (butchers) are Muslims and we distinguish our kiosks for the different kinds of meat we sell," Arkim, a beef vendor at Pasar Senen market said.

He said ongoing monitoring of registered vendors was only to oversee the meat prices and not the kinds of meat sold. (lup)