Barbados Free Press
Recently, Mr. Carlisle Brathwaithe, President of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association (BEPPA), has been keeping a lot of noise about the adverse effect that, the importation of turkey wings is allegedly having on the sale of chicken. He has alluded to the fact that, there were about fifteen-hundred persons engaged in the industry, which translated into a total of six-thousand when family members were included. Mention was also made by him, to the effect that it would be advantageous to the industry, if Salmonella spp. infections were an occurrence of the past in locally produced chicken.
My position is known where the local poultry industry is concerned. I have always said that it is a cartel. This has not been disputed by the industry. I have stated in the past on numerous occasions that, the addition of water to dress chicken is unhygienic and has been banned in the European Union and the United States. In letters to your newspaper, I have shown that the cumulative effect of added water, results in an additional outlay of 1.5 million Barbadian dollars annually by the consumers. In any event, once the members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), institute ISO 9000/WTO standards, BEPPA will not be able to export chicken, to which water has been added. The addition of water to poultry, to increase weight, constitutes food fraud.
I find it laughable that, Brathwaithe is advocating government ban the importation of turkey wings. Is this the same industry, which lobbied and obtained in 2002, from government, a sixty percent import duty on imported poultry? The duty was imposed ostensibly as a measure to ensure the retention of jobs in the industry. The industry still proceeded to down size.
Is this the same industry, which lobbied and obtained in 2002, the imposition of a fifteen-twenty percent commission from the importers, which was payable to the Barbados Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (BADMC)? Is this the same President, who in 2000 in articles to the press had the following to say “…wings may virtually disappear from the Barbados market as a result of high prices”. This statement was in response to the imposition of tariffs of 207 percent on the product.
The BEPPA has gotten its wish. Chickens wings have disappeared from the market, as a result of non-issuance of import permits by government. The BEPPA has blamed the importation of turkey wings in part, for the reduction in sales of chicken. This is the same tactic that was used in 1998 against chicken wings, despite the fact that like this year, there was a glut of flying fish. The BEPPA then, as it has done now, fail to consider the possibility that fish consumption resulted in a decline in chicken sales. The rapaciousness of the BEPPA seems to have no bounds. I wonder for how longer is government, going to allow 2.2% of a population of 270,000, to hold an entire country to ransom.
The presence of Salmonella is going to be problem as long as antibiotic are given to chicken in an effort to increase weight gain. This problem is exacerbated by the use of the spin-chiller or slush ice, in an effort to increase the water content of chicken. The constant use of antibiotics subject micro-organisms to selective pressures. That is, the organisms evolve resistant strains to the antibiotics used. In the case of the spin-chiller or slush ice, biocides are used, so the same selective pressures are operative. Additionally, bio-film formation by micro-organisms occurs readily on metallic surfaces. These bio-films are difficult to control and eradicate. Bio-film also increases an organism’s resistance to antibiotics.
Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D.