Livestock exporters 'disappointed' by reports of sheep leaking out of Middle East supply chain ahead of Eid al Adha
Australian exporters are investigating reports of Australian sheep leaking outside of approved supply chains in public markets in Jordan ahead of an annual slaughter festival.
"Clearly we are very disappointed," said chief executive officer of the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council (ALEC), Alison Penfold.
"We had flagged Jordan as high risk, given events last year, and certainly have made genuine efforts to secure supply chains.
"These reports clearly indicate there is an issue in the system, not condoned, approved, or supported by exporters in any shape or form, but something we have to investigate and treat where possible."
Audio: CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council Alison Penfold explains how the industry is preparing for Eid al Adha (ABC Rural)
This Saturday, October 4, Muslim people in the Middle East will begin the four-day Islamic religious festival of sacrifice, known as Eid al Adha (or Korban in South East Asia).
It's one of the most significant traditions in the Islamic calendar, involving families slaughtering animals at their homes, usually sheep or goats.
The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. A third is given to the poor, a third is given to relatives, friends and neighbours and the final third is retained by the family.
Eid is considered a high risk period for Australian livestock exporters, who are responsible for the welfare of the animals they sell through overseas supply chains.
Under Australian law, animals can only be slaughtered in approved abattoirs in foreign markets.
Ms Penfold couldn't say how many animals are involved in the latest report and what exporter is linked.
She added that exporters have been working directly with customers and facility staff to implement livestock management systems in recent weeks.
Animals Australia, the animal rights group that reported the incident to the Department of Agriculture, has warned the industry of its plans to find any evidence it can of mistreatment of Australian livestock during the festival.
A spokesperson from Animals Australia wasn't available for an interview, but provided the following in a written statement.
"Our investigators have viewed not less than 1,000 Australian sheep for sale by livestock merchants in locations previously reported for breaches on a number of occasions.
"All are primary selling locations for the Eid (Festival of Sacrifice) for private buyers, where animals will be subjected to trussing and transport in boots for home slaughter/sacrifice - or killed onsite.
"Once again, ear tags have been removed from sheep to prevent individual identification.
"Animals Australia has reported these significant ESCAS breaches to both the Department and to ALEC in the hope that they can stem further leakage to prevent cruel treatment of more animals over the coming days.
"Animals Australia has lodged five formal complaints since June 2013 about the illegal sale of Australian sheep in Jordan, in breach of live export regulations."
Updated about 3 hours agoThu 2 Oct 2014, 1:17pm http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-02/escas-breach-ahead-of-eid-al-adha-festival/5785560