The Federal Department of Agriculture says its investigation into allegations of cruelty to Australian cattle in Egypt is yet to be completed but supply chain managers are implementing steps to take corrective action to problems identified in footage provided by Animals Australia.
The department issued the following update on its investigation last night:
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has taken steps to ensure the welfare of the Australian cattle remaining in Egyptian feedlots.
The welfare of the remaining animals is a priority. Upon receiving allegations of animal mistreatment in Egyptian abattoirs on 1 May, DAFF urgently sought assurances about the proper handling of animals under the animal handling and slaughter Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Egypt. DAFF’s assessment of the footage presented is that the practices depicted were not compliant with international animal welfare standards.
The Egyptian government General Organization for Veterinary Services (GOVS) has been highly cooperative and promptly dispatched officials to the two abattoirs processing the cattle to review facilities and practices.
GOVS agreed to receive a team of Australian veterinarians under the MOU to jointly inspect the facilities and practices. GOVS agreed to halt slaughter until Australian officials were on the ground to conduct joint inspections. Joint inspections commenced on 15 May.
The facilities and practices at the Ismailia facility were found to meet international standards. The facility continues to undertake enhancements to ensure international animal welfare outcomes are met and Egyptian authorities are providing weekly reports.
A joint inspection at Ain Sokhna showed some aspects of the facility and its practices did not meet international animal welfare standards. The management of the facility is implementing corrective actions to meet required standards. Australian veterinarians continue to work closely with GOVS and the management of this facility to oversee the slaughter of remaining cattle and ensure the appropriate welfare outcomes are met.
There is currently a voluntary suspension of trade by exporters. There have been no consignments to Egypt since July 2012.
DAFF has continued to keep animal welfare groups and industry informed of the current issues.
DAFF’s investigation continues and DAFF welcomes the ongoing close cooperation and continuing work with Egypt.
Future regulatory options for the trade will be fully considered following the conclusion of the investigation underway.