The World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) standards did not require stunning of the cattle before slaughter, but after the recent Indonesian cattle fiasco, the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) would insist on it.
In revealing this, MLA chairman Don Heatley told patrons at the Rabobank Beef Dinner at MLA Richmond Field Days, that they have submitted a plan to solve the live export problem to Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, and are now waiting on an answer.
The plan calls for MLA to train animal welfare officers and have them placed at all killing floors where Australian cattle are processed. “MLA will train Indonesian personnel at our own expense,” he said. The plan will also see the use of stunning rapidly increased in Indonesia “to ensure processing standards are consistently maintained”.
Currently, “tens of thousands” of cattle are locked up in depots and holding paddocks around the country after the Australian government suspended all live cattle exports to Indonesia earlier this month, until safeguards are adopted.
Ludwig is demanding that a “closed system” be set up in Indonesia, whereby the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for traceability is enacted from the time when cattle leave the paddock until they are slaughtered, “to provide evidence of where they are slaughtered and whether that abattoir meets OIE standards”.
Australia exports 1.3 million tonnes of red meat, of which 382,000 tonnes is certified Halal.
Heatley said there are presently five abattoirs in Indonesia which meet OIE standards, another five can easily be bought up to comply while 15 more might take a little longer to bring up to OIE standards. These 25 Australian approved Indonesian abattoirs would provide processing facility for about 40 percent of the pre-ban trade volume. Heatley also revealed that the animal rights groups responsible have been in possession of the controversial footage for some time.
In a related development, the RSPCA and Animals Australia criticised the absence of mandatory stunning in the federal government’s proposal to Indonesia last week to restart the live cattle export trade.
Fifteen abattoirs that service the halal and kosher meat market have state government approval to slaughter sheep without stunning. Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, from Kosher Australia, said calls to ban such practices were motivated in part by ignorance and anti-semitism.
Under a disputed federal guideline, the Australian government has allowed exemptions to at least four abattoirs to kill without stunning to fulfill Middle Eastern export contracts over the past two years. Australia exports 1.3 million tonnes of red meat, of which 382,000 tonnes is certified halal.