Could the live export trade be fuelling public health risks? According to recent evidence — yes, it could.
Many cleverly-crafted PR lines have been fed by the live export industry to producers over the years to allay their concerns about supplying animals to the live trade.
Among the ‘best’ are that ‘exporters care about animal welfare’, despite the fact that they have been willing to supply millions of animals to cruel treatment for decades. That’s followed closely by the live export trade proudly supplies ‘safe protein’ to importing countries.
Such lines play on the fact that those who hear or read them will never go on a live export ship, or visit slaughterhouses in importing nations.
The truth is that the live export trade puts not only the welfare of animals at risk. Many overseas abattoirs that slaughter Australian animals would fail basic hygiene audits to ensure that meat is fit for human consumption.
Some of the very worst examples have recently been documented in Gaza. For those who live in Gaza life is already hard. They don’t have access to the same level of medical treatment and expertise that we have in Australia. So providing live animals to be killed in completely unsanitary conditions places lives at risk. Food poisoning, especially in an impoverished region like Gaza, can be fatal.
Even in the sole Gaza abattoir officially approved by the Australian Government to kill Australian animals, conditions are unhygienic and slaughter methods breach basic standards. This is despite this abattoir passing an exporter-funded audit.
Butchering and selling meat produced in such unsanitary environments would be illegal in Australia because of the obvious risk to human health — making it far from ‘safe protein’. Facilitating a trade in live animals into Gaza has been about profit, not necessity. The livestock importer into Gaza, Afana Bros, is a highly professional, wealthy company that also imports boxed meat for distribution in Gaza.
What is clear is that those who could knowingly supply animals to such circumstances care little about the welfare of humans and even less about the welfare of animals.
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