Animal cruelty in Israeli abattoir reignites live export debate

A video showing Israeli abattoir workers poking cattle in the eyes and genitals with an electric prodder has reignited the live export debate in Australia.

Last night's 7.30 program released details of workers at Israel's largest abattoir, Bakar Tnuva being "liberal with their use of the electric stun gun", targeting the eyes, genitals and anus.

An abattoir worker also claimed that injured animals who refuse to move are dragged by their front leg behind a forklift.

The revelations have reignited debate about Australia's live exports, especially considering this film was recorded two months after the abattoir was approved under the federal government's animal welfare guidelines.

The film was captured on a hidden camera in September by an undercover Israeli journalist and vegal animal rights activist, Ronen Bar, who worked at Bakar Tnuva for 19 days. It has since been broadcast in Israel, causing a public outcry and prompting a criminal investigation.

Bar told 7.30 animal cruelty at the abattoir was a regular occurrence and the animals subject to it were often from Australia.

"These are the regular procedures, it's not what was shown, is not something special or something that is not everyday regularity," he said.

"Some of the cattle I filmed the ear tags and it says AUS, Australian. Also the workers told me that the cows are Australian, and the managers… most of the calves that are slaughtered there are Australian."

However, two of the three Australian companies previously exporting to Bakar Tnuva – Elders International and Livestock Shipping Services –  claim the cattle in the footage isn't theirs.

The RSPCA is calling on the Australian government to reject any applications by exporters which involve the Bakar Tnuva facility, and says live exports should be banned.

Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia chief scientist, said "The fact that a facility like this, with such entrenched problems can pass an ESCAS [Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System] audit casts a huge shadow over the entire supply chain assurance system. The entire process rests on the veracity of the auditing arrangements.

"This is proof that no scheme or agreements can fully safeguard the welfare of animals exported live overseas for slaughter. No matter how much industry or government involvement there is, the live export trade presents an unacceptable level of risk for the animals and is inherently cruel."

In a joint statement issued by the National Farmers' Federation, the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council, the Cattle Council of Australia and the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, Jock Laurie, president of the National Farmers’ Federation said swift action has been taken.

"The abattoir has taken swift and decisive action which has included the removal of the abattoir manager and other staff seen in the footage mistreating the animals.

"We understand that CCTV cameras are to be installed, and at the request of the importer, industry-funded training consultants are currently on the ground in Israel to instigate a comprehensive training program at the facility," said Laurie.

Earlier this year live exports were temporarily banned after ABC's Four Corners aired footage of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs. While the ban helped ease concerns of the general public, concerned about the treatment of Australian animals, industry members were concerned about how such bans would affect their livelihoods. Read more here.


Send this to a friend