Slaughter & sale of live turtles & frogs at S'pore wet markets banned to reduce risk of spreading disease

To further improve environmental hygiene and food safety.

Lean Jinghui | July 15, 2021, 03:10 PM

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The sale and slaughter of live frogs and turtles at wet markets in Singapore has been banned since December 2020, according to the Straits Times (ST).

Speaking to Mothership, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) confirmed that the ban is in place and followed a review conducted in consultation with the National Parks Board and the National Environmental Agency (NEA).

SFA added that while the public health risks posed by such slaughtering activity is low, SFA and NEA had started phasing out the slaughtering and sale of live frogs and turtles at market stalls since June 2020, to "further reduce risk" and "improve environmental hygiene and food safety".

"A positive step forward"

Anbarasi Boopal, co-chief executive officer of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), told Mothership that the move is a "positive step forward" in animal welfare and food safety.

In an appeal to SFA last year, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and ACRES had asked for slaughter to be restricted to slaughterhouses regulated by government agencies, and to end the selling of live animals at public wet markets and food stalls in Singapore.

This came after investigations by ACRES in March 2020, which revealed live bullfrogs caged in cramped conditions, placed next to chopped fish meat on display for sale.

Vendors were also seen handling the live bullfrogs and other seafood with the same gloves used to handle cash transactions, while wild-caught soft-shelled turtles were found with open wounds on their noses, raising the concern of infections.

Live slaughter at marketplaces increases risk of disease transmission

One vendor also told ACRES that all live animals, such as turtles, frogs and fish, were kept "on diet" on arrival, to avoid "bad odours during slaughter".

According to ACRES, poor animal welfare can impact food safety and public health, as animals which are starved or kept in cramped conditions tend to have compromised immune systems. This in turn increases the risk of disease transmission.

Mothership understands that the guidelines surrounding the ban are currently being reviewed.

It is not yet clear how and if the ban applies to other Food & Beverage (F&B) establishments, and what penalties might be considered for those who break the regulation.

Mothership has sent queries to the SFA, and will update this story with their response.

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