MERS fear caused losses to Saudi camel meat sellers


(Jeddah-NewsHalal-Muharram 2, 1436, October 15, 2015) MERS outbreak in Saudi Arabia is under control but restaurants selling dishes containing camel meat have reported huge losses since the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the Kingdom.

Researchers have identified a link between camels and the corona-virus that causes the disease.

However, health organizations and experts have confirmed that MERS is not going to become an epidemic unlike the bird flu. The disease doesn’t pose a threat to human life and soon it will disappear, Saudi Gazette reported.

People have been confused whether to consume camel meat or not. To that question nutritionist Rowaidah Idris said, “Before we accuse camels, we have to understand that the corona-virus doesn’t spread through food. Cooking camel meat at a 70 C temperature is enough not only to kill the corona-virus but also many of the bacteria.”

Restaurant owners in Madinah reportedly complained that the Saudi traditional meal “Kabsa” that is mainly cooked with camel meat is no longer being served due to shortage in camel meat at local butcheries.

The Ministry of Health banned the slaughtering of camels in all slaughterhouses in the Kingdom implementing recommendations from teams working to eliminate the coronavirus.

The newspaper quoted the head of the camel market in Madinah Ali Al-Harkan as saying that the losses during Eid Al-Adha reached SR15 million because of the ministry’s ban. He said only the camel milk or urine has the ability to transfer the virus to human beings.

“But not the meat. Whatever the meat has will eventually die in the cooking process. Not a single shepherd or seller of camel got sick in Madinah,” said Al-Harkan.