Visit to Halal Abattoir
On 14 August 2003 I met the Chief Executive Officer and managers of
the largest meat processing company south of Perth . The company operates
an abattoir as well as a processing and packaging operation.
During our meeting, we exchanged views on the live animal export trade
export trade. I emphasised that my major concern is the cruelty of the
trade and the unaddressed animal welfare issues which were endemic right
throughout the trade, from the farm gate to the final destination overseas.
In particular, we discussed the observation reports of slaughter procedures
overseas, and agreed that methods used overseas are unacceptably inhumane
and cannot compare to our strict Australian procedures.
We outlined our agenda, which is to convince the Federal government
to phase out this trade and replace it with processed meat to all the
The cruelty issues alone have not stopped the trade in the past and
no doubt will not stop the trade in the future. But by expanding the
meat processing industries throughout Australia, there would be more
employment for Australians in all aspects of the meat processing industries;
value-adding to our export industry; and an end to the inhumane live
animal export trade.
The CEO, who is on the Meat Processing Taskforce (MPT) which was formed
early this year, verified that he had read the information which had
I had sent to him, and which outlined the adverse economic impacts of
the live trade on the meat processing industry.
He stated that his company, which exports to the Middle East , Asia
, Japan and USA , currently employs between 350-400 staff and has been
operating under capacity for years. He stated that the overseas markets
for Halal meat cannot be met because the live trade gets first preference
from the livestock sales yards. But he said that if the company had a
consistent supply of cattle all year round, they could increase their
workforce by another 200 and operate at full capacity 7 days a week.
Apparently there are four other combined Halal abattoir / processing
companies in Western Australia , handling cattle, sheep and goats, and
they are all operating under capacity. There are approximately 30 abattoirs
operating in Western Australia . Many of these abattoirs can only employ
their staff for 2-3 days per week. All have supply problems due to the
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When our meeting concluded I was taken to the Quality Assurance Manager's
office and given the regulations and procedures for Halal slaughter to
read. Then we both went to the clothing store to put on the regulation
long white coat, rubber boots and paper cap before being admitted into
the abattoir. I was amazed at the size of the abattoir operation. It
was unbelievably clean and the walls, fixtures and fittings were all
finished in stainless steel. The floor staff were standing on platforms
and attending to particular tasks on the assembly line of hanging carcasses.
We walked past them to the very end of the building and arrived at the
stunning box where the animals are stunned.
The box is made of stainless steel and it faces toward Mecca . Only
one animal at a time is in the box and it cannot see the hanging carcasses.
Its head is the only part which is visible. The person conducting the
stunning is a trained slaughterman. The person undertaking the ritual
slaughter, is a Muslim slaughterman.
link to Islamic concerns on Halal meat site - http://www.islamicconcern.com/halalmeat.asp
I witnessed the bolt gun being placed to the middle of the cow's forehead.
The animal was not stressed and it actually appeared curious because
it did not know what was happening. I was only an arm's length away from
The side door dropped down automatically away from the box as the unconscious
animal collapsed. There was no sound and no movement from the animal.
The Muslim slaughterman chanted in Arabic as he grasped the head and
severed the cow's windpipe and carotid artery. The whole process lasted
no more than six seconds. I was told that the prayer chanted translates
as, "In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful."
I left the abattoir feeling somewhat numb and saddened; however, I can
honestly say that some Australian abattoirs are no doubt far better places
for an animal to end its life than the overseas slaughterhouses where
inhumane treatment and brutality is accepted as the norm.
After shedding my abattoir clothing, I was taken to meet the staff training
manager, who showed me the training program documents. He explained that
the top two training priorities are animal welfare and safety. His company
employs eight full-time Muslim slaughtermen and 35 Australian slaughtermen,
as well as butchers, process workers, packers, outside staff, vets, stockmen
and so forth.
The Muslim slaughtermen have been recruited from an Islamic body called
Halal Sadiq Services. They have to be registered and have current identification
cards certifying their accreditation with Sadiq Services as well as the
Perth Mosque Inc. The slaughtermen as well as all other abattoir staff
have to pass written and oral tests about every aspect of their jobs
prior to employment.
All vets, meat inspectors, and process activities are overseen by the
AQIS VOIC vet (Australian Quarantine Inspection Services, Veterinary
Officer in Charge) who also verifies that the meat is Halal (meaning 'lawful'
The company's emphasis on animal welfare commences from the day the
cattle are unloaded from the trucks until the day they are put down.
The company owns the very large irrigated paddocks that surround the
buildings. When the cattle are unloaded, they are watered, fed and rested
and every animal is given a health check.
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I then returned to the main office where I had another quick chat to
the CEO, who was interested to know what I thought about my tour of the
abattoir section of the company operations. The company's position in
regard to the live trade is that the meat processing industry needs to
be allowed to compete on a level playing field. This is not the case
at present. For example, there are too many costs imposed on the meat
processing industry that are not imposed on the live trade, and too much
additional government support for the live trade, that is not available
to the processing industry.
We agreed to keep in touch with one another. I was asked not to mention
the name of this company, no doubt due to the Halal butcher shop fire
recently and concern about sabotage arising from racial hatred and ignorance.
Several days later I sent a letter to the CEO of the company, to thank
him and his managers for their time, cooperation and courtesy.
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