Hundreds of culled spent hen, an egg-laying chicken that is staple dog meat in the country, is being sold in the open market in Kashmir for human consumption. The Srinagar municipal corporation (SMC) has flagged the issue after fearing traces of salmonella, bacteria responsible for food poisoning, and is pushing for a blanket ban.
"Layer chickens are culled once their biological cycle to lay eggs ends and are called spent hens. It becomes dog meat thereafter. However, since there is no legislation in the state banning its sale, these birds are being sold for human consumption," said Kashmir animal husbandry director Shamsu-ud-Din Makhdoomi.
Thousands of layer birds are culled in Punjab and sold in the city's famous markets like Batamaloo, Zaina Kadal, Hari Singh High Street, etc. The sale is also reported from nine districts of north and south Kashmir. A culled spent hen only costs `5 in Punjab and is being sold for around `70 in the Kashmir Valley's open market.
There are two kinds of poultry - broiler bred for meat and eggs layers. The standard practice is to kill and dispose of culled spent hen.
The SMC has also received complaints about the sale of spent hen, which is not fit for human consumption. "The SMC has received a number of complaints regarding the sale of spent hen at very exorbitant prices at various places in the city," admitted SMC health officer Dr Shafqat Khan.
These layer birds have very low nutritive value and are prone to disease. After the egg-laying age of two-and-a-half-years, the bird becomes fatigued as its body contains residues of antibiotics and hormones injected to increase its egg-laying capacity.
Several researches conducted on the bird show traces of salmonella, a bacterium highly dangerous for human health. The complaints received by the SMC suggest that these birds have found their way to the city restaurants, which helps owners to make easy profits.
A note prepared by the SMC is pressing for a ban on its sale. "It is proposed that in the interest of health of the public a blanket ban shall be imposed on sale/storage and distribution of layer birds," reads the note.
The SMC has invoked Section 51 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which calls for `5lakh fine on those selling sub-standard food, to seek the ban.
Kashmir consumes at least five crore broiler birds annually. Around 10-12 lakh layer birds are imported for egg production.
MAKING A KILLING
Layer chickens are culled once their biological cycle to lay eggs ends and are called spent hens
Culled hen meat is staple dog meat that is sold in the open market in the country
A culled spent hen costs `5 in Punjab and is sold for `70 in the Valley
The Srinagar MC is now pushing for blanket ban due to presence of salmonella bacteria in culled hen meat