HomeHEALTHConsuming Animal Blood as Meat Poses Risk of Triggering Another Anthrax Outbreak,...

Consuming Animal Blood as Meat Poses Risk of Triggering Another Anthrax Outbreak, Warn Experts 

Food and animal experts are sounding a warning about the potential risks associated with the consumption of animal blood as meat, particularly when derived from diseased animals.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, in July 2023, confirmed an anthrax outbreak in a mixed livestock farm in Niger State, emphasizing the zoonotic nature of the disease that can affect both humans and animals.

Anthrax, caused by bacteria, can be transmitted through the consumption of raw or undercooked meat and other products derived from infected animals. Zoonosis, as defined by the World Health Organisation, refers to infectious diseases transmitted from animals to humans, with over 200 types identified, contributing significantly to both new and existing diseases in humans.

While animal feed resources information system Feedipedia notes various methods of drying blood collected during livestock slaughter such as solar, oven, drum, flash, and spray drying many tribes in Nigeria process and consume animal blood as a form of meat.

However, experts highlight the health concerns associated with this practice, particularly the potential for the spread of animal-to-human transmitted diseases.

Prof. Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, President of the Consumer Advocacy for Food Safety and Nutrition Initiative, explains that although blood is a rich source of protein and iron, consuming it as meat poses serious health risks due to exposure to blood-borne illnesses. The safety of blood as human food is contingent on multiple factors, including the handling process from animal rearing to abattoir processing and the final plate.

Ogunmoyela emphasizes that the handling, processing, and preservation of animal blood as meat raises food safety concerns, with particular attention needed from the farm to the consumer’s table. Various practices, including drinking raw blood, drying it, or cooking and allowing it to curdle, are prevalent among consumers. Given that beef, fish, chicken, and raw eggs have been linked to foodborne illnesses, experts caution that blood meals carry similar risks and may contribute to food poisoning.

In addition, proper cooking of blood, however, emerges as a mitigating factor. Ogunmoyela notes that while raw blood consumption is not safe, adequate cooking can reduce the risk of transmitting foodborne illnesses. This underscores the importance of ensuring that blood is properly cooked to minimize potential health hazards associated with its consumption.

In light of these concerns, experts stress the need for increased awareness regarding the risks posed by consuming animal blood as meat, coupled with advocacy for safe food handling practices. As communities engage in traditional practices, a balance must be struck between cultural preferences and ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals. Ultimately, proper education and adherence to food safety guidelines become crucial elements in preventing the spread of diseases linked to the consumption of animal blood.

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