17th June 2013
Cut-price supermarket Lidl has been accused by leading animal-campaigning group, Viva!, of exploiting wildlife and causing untold suffering by selling kangaroo meat in its stores (1). The group has also highlighted recent research that shows kangaroo meat has a higher amount of a chemical linked to increased risks of heart attack and stroke than any other red meat (2).
Viva! have already contacted Lidl with compelling evidence of the cruelty and unsustainable nature inherent in the trade in so-called ‘exotic meats’. The group will now be contacting them insisting they warn their customers about the potential health risks of consuming kangaroo meat and insisting they take it off the shelves. Lidl have bucked the trend set by every other UK supermarket, who continue to refuse to stock the meat on ethical grounds.
A chemical called L-carnitine is present in all red meat but, according to research, kangaroo meat has more per gram than any other meat. Research from 2013 associates L-carnitine consumption with a build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease (2).
Nearly six million kangaroos are earmarked to die in Australia in 2013 (a massive increase of around two million compared to 2011) (3). It is the largest massacre of land based animals in the world. Kill tallies do not include the hundreds of thousands of baby joeys, who are clubbed with iron bars or adolescents sometimes left to die from exposure or predation in the bush. It is estimated that around 855,000 dependent young are killed each year – and are not even used by the industry (4). Viva! fears that with a quota rise that figure will only increase.
Viva! maintains that an increase in the trade in kangaroo meat in Britain will put further pressure on wild populations in Australia and is unethical. The group will be launching a peaceful consumer campaign to persuade Lidl to drop all kangaroo meat, including letter writing and encouraging consumers to not use supermarket chains that trade in meat from wild animals.
Justin Kerswell, Viva! campaigns manager, says: “Lidl are making a cheap buck by selling dead wildlife to misguided, thrill-seeking customers. The novelty value of so-called ‘exotic meats’ pales when you take into account the suffering and sheer destruction this unsustainable business causes. Kangaroos are not farmed, they are wild animals that are hunted and shot at night in the vast outback away from the scrutiny of the public. What makes this vile trade even worse are the hundreds of thousands of little victims, the baby and adolescent joeys. Pouch young will be pulled from their dying mother and smashed about the head or even decapitated and then simply discarded. Many adolescents flee and will invariably suffer a slow and lingering death without the protection of their mother. In other words, buy a Lidl kangaroo steak and you could be getting dead joeys for free.
“Not only is this a cruel and bloody trade but Lidl are potentially putting their customer’s health at risk. Whilst widely reported in Australia earlier this year, it’s doubtful that British consumers will have any idea that kangaroo meat has higher levels of a chemical linked to increased risk of strokes and heart attacks than any other red meat. It is bad for kangaroos and it could be bad for you.”
“We are calling on Lidl to drop kangaroo meat and follow the lead of every other UK supermarket that have decided they wanted no part of this bloody business.”
For more information about Viva!’s campaign against Kangaroo hunting, please call 0117 944 1000 or visit www.savethekangaroo.com.
Notes to editors:
(2) “Kangaroo meat may not be as healthy as previously thought after scientists found a component of red meat most prevalent in the iconic Australian animal is linked to heart disease. A study published in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine found that a compound in red meat called L-carnitine is associated with the build up of plaque in arteries which causes heart attacks, strokes and vascular disease.” Kangaroo meat not as healthy as you think, Sydney Morning Herald, April 8, 2013 http://www.smh.com.au/national/kangaroo-meat-not-as-healthy-as-you-think-20130408-2hgyx.html.
(3) In 2011, 3,730,710 kangaroos were earmarked for ‘culling’, by 2013 that figure has increased by around 2 million to nearly 6 million: http://www.theage.com.au/act-news/annual-kangaroo-cull-draws-fire-20130605-2nqyg.html. Latest figures from the Australian Government: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/wild-harvest/pubs/kangaroo-statistics.pdf
(4) Number of dependent young as estimated by Thinkk (University of Technology Sydney): http://thinkkangaroos.uts.edu.au/. The official Code of Practice says (of pouch young) “Single forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the brain. OR Stunning, immediately followed by decapitation by rapidly severing the head from the body with a sharp blade.” Full code available here: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/publications/kangaroo/pubs/code-of-conduct-commercial.pdf
National campaigning group Viva! distinguished itself when it persuaded all Britain’s 1,500 supermarkets to drop the sale of kangaroo and other exotic meats. Viva! persuaded wholesalers Makro to drop kangaroo meat in 2009 and Booker in 2008. It has had a long-running campaign against Adidas' use of kangaroo leather in football boot manufacture – and in 2011 they conceded that they were reducing its use. At the time 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 and from synthetics after an intervention by Viva!. Nike have also confirmed that they are phasing out the use of kangaroo skins entirely after pressure from Viva!.
Viva! works closely with Australian wildlife groups – including The Australian Wildlife Protection Council and are major supporters of their campaign to get kangaroo products banned across the EU.
For more information about this media release, please contact Viva! press office on 0117 944 1000.
Viva! is the largest vegetarian and vegan campaigning organisation in Europe.
Viva! founder and director Juliet Gellatley was presented with the Australian Wildlife Protection Council award for services to wildlife in 1998.