VIETNAM – Cows pose health risk by grazing on waste

DA NANG — Cows are being discouraged to graze on rubbish dumps in a number of provinces, because of the health risks involved.

About 30-40 cows have eaten rubbish everyday at the Khanh Son rubbish dump in Hoa Khanh Nam Ward in Lien Chieu District.

Health officials are particularly alarmed because the 50-ha rubbish dump also contains medical waste from the city’s hospitals.

An official from Da Nang Urban Environment Company, which manages the dump, said staff had tried to drive the cows away but that local residents persisted in trying to graze their animals at the site.

Tran Cong Bay, deputy director of Da Nang Department of Animal Health, warned that cows fed on poisonous waste would pose a health risk to consumers.

Meanwhile, in the central province of Nghe An, hundreds of cows graze at Hung Dong rubbish dump – the biggest in the province.

Nguyen Xuan Tho, chairman of the Hung Dong Commune People’s Committee, said local residents began grazing their cows on rubbish three years ago.

“Although they have been eating rubbish, all of the cows are fat and are disease free,” he said.

Nobody has got ill from eating such beef, he added.

However, Tho admitted that the dump contained poisonous waste.

“We will close the rubbish dump and find another way to treat the rubbish. It may be the only way to prevent local farmers from grazing cows here,” he said.

Meanwhile in the northern province of Thai Nguyen, hundreds of cows have been grazing at Da Mai rubbish dump in Tan Cuong Commune since 2007.

About 100 tonnes of industrial and medical waste is dumped at the site daily.

Nguyen Sy Tao, chairman of the Tan Cuong People’s Committee, said feeding cattle on household and industrial waste would be dangerous for consumers.

“We have warned local people many times, but grazing cows on rubbish helps the farmers reduce a lot of expenditure so it is difficult to control,” he said.

He said that officials, local animal health experts and the Thai Nguyen Department of Natural Resources and Environment would take action to deter residents from grazing their cattle on rubbish.

“We may fine them and confiscate their cows if they continue the practice,” he said.

Dam Xuan Thanh, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Animal Health, said it would be difficult to determine just how dangerous it was to feed cattle on rubbish, but that common sense would suggest it was not healthy.

Thanh added that cows fed on poisonous food were more at risk of developing foot-and-mouth disease, typhoid, and other illnesses.

“Some diseases do not break out right after customers eat dirty beef, but they can break out after some years or even more than 10 years,” he said.

Information Vietnam News

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