10th July 2009
LEADING animal group Viva! is calling for a ban on the importation of kangaroo meat into the UK after fears of E-coli and other diseases the meat could carry. It has also raised concerns about cruelty and the sustainability of the mass hunting of Australia's most iconic animal.
Russia, the largest importer of kangaroo meat in the world, has placed a ban on the importation of all kangaroo meat, which is due to start from the beginning of August this year. It follows the banning of the meat from three Australian processing plants last year after it found antibiotics in carcasses. The ban comes after a 2009 Australian report revealed that E. coli and salmonella bacteria had been found in some kangaroo carcasses intended for human consumption1. The report concluded that good hygiene was impossible, as kangaroos are killed in the wild and there can be excessive periods of time between an animal being shot and processed and the carcass being placed in cold storage.
However, the news of the Russian ban comes days after a new market for the meat has opened up in China. Queensland kangaroo processor, John Burey says: "Now China, they could consume by far and away more kangaroo meat than we could supply."2 Viva! maintain that kangaroo populations are in freefall, and any further expansion would be disastrous to a species already under vast pressure.
More than three million kangaroos are hunted every year despite the worst drought in living memory and the result is a collapse of kangaroo populations3. Hundreds of thousands of baby joeys, which are useless to the industry, are decapitated or clubbed to death every year.
Viva! campaigns manager, Justin Kerswell says: 'It is wonderful news that Russia has banned the importation of this cruel and potentially disease-ridden meat. But it begs the question why we haven't followed suit yet' British consumers have for too long been seduced by the idea that kangaroo meat is just a bit of fun. The reality is that this hides what is the largest massacre of land animals in the world today and could pose a potent health risk.'
Notes to editors
Viva! is writing to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to demand the immediate banning of the importation of kangaroo meat under health grounds.
Kangaroo meat is for sale in the UK at Walkabout chains (http://www.walkaboutbars.co.uk/venues/temple/food_menus) as well as independent eateries, butchers and delis. It is sold wholesale by companies such as Osgrow (http://www.osgrow.co.uk/index_document_3.htm) and Alternative Meats (http://www.alternativemeats.co.uk/Xn36cg112033/Kangaroo/c-1-80/). Viva! distinguished itself when it persuaded all Britain's 1,500 supermarkets to drop the sale of kangaroo and other 'exotic meats'. It has most recently persuaded cash-and-carry firms Booker and Makro to drop kangaroo meat in the UK
1 Report: A Shot in the Dark by Dror Ben-Ami, PhD (2009) http://www.kangaroo-protection-coalition.com/support-files/a_shot_in_the_dark.pdf
Key points of hygiene:
* There is a concern of a human health threat from an unidentified epidemic that periodically causes high levels of mortality in localised kangaroo populations.
* Hygiene surrounding the production of kangaroo meat is so poor that the Russian Federation has banned the import of kangaroo meat.
* An independent investigation has identified unacceptable levels of bacterial accumulations in kangaroo carcasses in chillers (holding facilities for kangaroo carcasses) in Queensland.
* Regulation of hygienic practices at the three to six million annual points of kill where kangaroos are shot and eviscerated is impossible.'
3 Kill tallies do not include the hundreds of thousands of baby 'Joeys', who are clubbed with iron bars or left to die from exposure or predation in the bush. According to official Australian government statistics, the populations of kangaroos in the areas where they are commercially hunted have fallen by 55 per cent since 2001. Because of this drop, new areas have been opened up for hunting kangaroos to keep supplies up from an ever dwindling number of kangaroos ' most recently an area in NSW.
According to the Australian Society for Kangaroos, Western Grey, Eastern Grey, Wallaroo and Red Kangaroo populations have plummeted to densities of below five kangaroos per square kilometre ' something defined in the Australian government's Murray Darling report as 'quasi extinction'. In fact, densities of less than two kangaroos per square kilometre have been identified across 50 to 60 per cent of three states where commercial hunting is allowed.
Their report 'Decimation of an Icon' can be viewed online by visiting http://www.kangaroo-protection-coalition.com/kangaroo-extinction.html
Viva! has also had a long-running campaign against the Adidas use of kangaroo leather in football boot manufacture. The world's largest uses of kangaroo leather, its advertising was headed by David Beckham, who changed from Predator football boots made of kangaroo leather to those from synthetics after an intervention by Viva!.
Viva! is the largest vegetarian and vegan campaigning organisation in Europe. Founder and director Juliet Gellatley was presented with the Australian Wildlife Protection Council award for services to wildlife in 1998