AUSTRALIAN livestock export industry representatives have been proactive in key Eid al Adha festival supply chains in the Middle East where Australian sheep have been detected outside of approved facilities in the past week.
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO Simon Westaway confirmed that exporter representatives in the Middle East had identified Australian sheep outside of approved supply chains in recent days and, in keeping with Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) protocols, have advised the Department.
Under the 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.
“The Department has been advised of a number of leakages and exporters will continue to liaise closely with Departmental staff in the coming days,” Mr Westaway said.
“Exporters have Australian staff on the ground in our markets across the Middle East supervising the management arrangements at approved facilities for Australian sheep over Eid al Adha, while other Australian and locally engaged staff have been monitoring local markets for illegally removed sheep.
“As outlined by ALEC Chairman Simon Crean upon his return from a recent tour of the Middle East, despite the ESCAS-compliance measures in place, industry was aware of the risk that some Australian animals would be traded outside of the approved supply chain.
“Such leakage, while reflecting the commercial desperation of local traders to offer Australian sheep to the public, undermines the significant collaborative efforts of exporters in the market to develop the special livestock management systems for Eid.”
Mr Westaway said the industry will review its supply chain systems at the conclusion of Eid and continue to implement measures that prevent Australian sheep from being removed illegally from supply chains, not just during Eid but at any time of year.
“There has been a genuine collaborative effort in the supply chain to drive locals to source Australian sheep slaughtered under the best halal slaughter conditions that meet international animal welfare standards.
“We thank the many people who work with us to implement these systems during Eid. There is clearly more to be done and we’ll continue to work in-market with our supply chain partners because collaboration is proven to be the driver of improvements in traceability and animal welfare.
Special livestock control systems are implemented for Australian sheep in Middle East markets, over and above ESCAS requirements, to support the traditional rite to sacrifice animals as part of the Eid Al Adha festival.
Mr Westaway said exporters had been proactive in monitoring markets in recent days in an effort to detect any Australian sheep outside of approved supply chains. He also said third-party reports of supply chain leakages, including in Malaysia, would be investigated by the industry.
Mr Westaway said proactive reporting of leakage and other compliance issues by exporters was playing a vital role upholding the integrity of ESCAS.
“The latest Regulatory Performance Report, published last week by DAWR, includes a number of reviews detailing reports of ESCAS non-compliance involving Australian sheep in Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates,” Mr Westaway said.
“The report is a timely reminder that ESCAS is working and that there is a greater level of transparency, accountability and self-reporting by exporters than ever before.
“It is also a reminder that ESCAS breaches, especially supply chain leakage, is a constant risk in the Middle East and that we must remain vigilant at all times.”
The report outlines a range of regulatory, corrective and preventative actions, implemented by the Department and exports, in response to confirmed non-compliance, including:
Regulatory action applied by the department:
- removing non-compliant facilities from ESCAS supply chains
- raising the risk rating of facilities, requiring them to be audited more frequently
- requiring the review of verification processes for ESCAS control and traceability
- requirements and provide a report to the department
- requiring the development of exporter supply chain management plans to be developed
- and implemented, including systems for the high risk period over Eid al-Adha.
Corrective actions implemented by exporters:
- providing additional training to staff at facilities
- suspending supply of livestock to a facility while an investigation was completed
- revised processes and implemented improved control and traceability measures
- appointing Animal Welfare Officers (AWOs) to oversee animal welfare and control and
- traceability requirements at facilities
- liaising with importers and facilities to reiterate ESCAS requirements
- performing assessments of supply chain traceability and completing an additional
- independent audit of facilities
- ceasing supply to an entire market and closing an ESCAS
- developing and implementing supply chain management plans
- completing a risk gap analysis across the supply chain
- appointing security and transport operators at facilities.
Communications & Media Manager
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council
Mobile: 0476 844 886