Australian livestock exporters are now geared up in six Middle East markets with additional livestock control systems for this week’s Eid Al Adha Islamic religious ceremonies but industry fears that hundreds of illegally removed sheep from Kuwait supply chains will be slaughtered outside approved facilities, the CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, Alison Penfold said today.
Additional livestock control systems are implemented for Australian sheep in the six Middle East Australian live sheep markets, over and above ESCAS requirements, to support the traditional rite to sacrifice animals as part of the Eid Al Adha festival which will take place around the world, including in Australia, from the 23rd to the 25th September.
“Public demand for Australian sheep is high during the Eid festival. For the past seven years, Australian exporters have progressively implemented additional systems to control and manage public behaviours and access to Australian livestock. We have come a long way since the first “in the ute, not in the boot” campaigns,” Ms Penfold said.
“This year we have further extended the use of additional supply chain controls in markets. Additional restrictions on the number and manner by which Australian sheep will be available to the public have been put in place but undertaken in a manner that allows the public to practice important religious observances of Eid al Adha such as donating meat to the poor.
In Bahrain and Qatar, and in major slaughterhouses in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, Australian sheep will only be available through the “Mecca Model” of a ticket based carcass sales system. This system allows local consumers to buy tickets at one end of the facility and collect carcasses at the other. In between the only people handling and slaughtering the livestock are trained stockmen and slaughtermen who are practiced in Halal requirements and operating in abattoirs that meet Australian ESCAS regulatory requirements.
“In Kuwait, one exporter has restricted the majority of sales to charities so the poor and needy have access to animals during the festival and implemented a home delivery service of dressed carcasses to control individual sales and selection pressures. The prices on offer are lower than the street price to encourage the public to buy from proper supply chains.
“The other importer will only process large orders under supervision at approved abattoirs in their ESCAS supply chain.
Photo: Sale of Fresh Australian Carcasses during Eid al Adha in Bahrain
“In the remaining approved facilities in Kuwait, the UAE and Oman, live sheep sales will occur under restricted conditions with slaughter undertaken by trained slaughtermen under Australian ESCAS requirements and in approved abattoirs.
“In Jordan, Australian sheep will only be processed through closed loop facilities during the Eid period.
“We thank the many people who work with us to us to implement these systems during Eid – but we need to do more to address leakage of sheep out of approved supply chains in the pre-Eid period.”
Ms Penfold said that in recent weeks it is believed that a surge in demand for Australian sheep for the Eid sacrifice has encouraged increased illegal removal of sheep from Kuwait supply chains.
“While many thousands of Australian sheep will be slaughtered for Eid in controlled Australian approved premises – out of the almost 550,000 exported to the market this year – we fear several hundred Australian sheep will potentially face home slaughter which is an illegal practice under Kuwait law.
“To try and address the welfare fate of any sheep illegally removed from our processes, importers are working with local authorities to campaign in social media and in the press to encourage the buyers of Australian sheep purchased at local markets to take them to one of the approved abattoirs in Kuwait for slaughter by trained abattoir personnel.
“By no measure is this a claim by industry that we have done enough to prevent the leakage of Australian sheep but importers are working to engage the public to get as many Australian sheep back into the controlled slaughter process.
“Exporters will review their systems at the conclusion of this year’s Eid festival with a commitment to identifying and implementing measures that prevent Australian sheep from being removed illegally from supply chains,” Ms Penfold said.
Under the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements, Australian livestock must not be sold outside of approved supply chains and cannot be purchased for home slaughter or for slaughter at facilities that have not been approved as meeting international animal welfare standards.
Media contact: Alison Penfold – 0408 633 026 email@example.com
Please see Eid Al Adha 2015 Backgrounder for more information, including details of systems operating in South East Asia during Korban.