We are being told on a daily basis that these are times of financial strife that require a period of austerity and cut-backs. One consequence of this that we may not automatically think about is the increase of black market food sales and the effects that this could have on public health.
Reports of animal rustling are on the increase, with sheep and cows regularly disappearing from farmer’s fields. There is a fear that certain unscrupulous individuals are stealing livestock, slaughtering them in mobile slaughter-houses and then selling the products on.
This is a worrying development; illegal food production cannot be regulated, and there is no way of knowing in what conditions animals have been slaughtered. This poses problems both from an animal welfare and human point of view.
As prices rise and businesses look for ways to reduce costs, it is essential that those serving or selling food do not compromise on the quality of their suppliers. The only way to protect public health is to ensure that suppliers comply with regulations and have received adequate food safety training. If the black market is allowed to develop, it could have serious consequences for our health and for farmers’ pockets.