The company taking part in a Victorian trial using culled kangaroos to make pet food says it wants the program to become a permanent policy.
AUDIO: Victorian Petfood Processors general manager David Preece discusses kangaroo meat trial (ABC Rural)
The State Government launched the two-year trial in 2014 and in March this year announced a two-year extension.
The culled kangaroos come from various parts of the state and are sent to an abattoir in Hamilton owned by Victorian Petfood Processors.
General manager David Preece said if the program were made permanent and more areas opened up, it would provide long term certainty.
"Before the trial finishes we hope that the government of the day can make a decision on whether they will open up those other two or three ares that they have indicated they would," he said.
Mr Preece said the company had invested in new infrastructure and staff at its Hamilton abattoir to cater for kangaroo processing, but it would not make any further investments until the future of the program was clearer.
The trial allows kangaroos from authorised culls to be used.
For a cull to be authorised, the landholder must demonstrate the animals are causing damage.
The Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning said trial had been extended in March to test sustainability of the practice over a longer period.
A department spokesperson said landholders had been happy with the trial and its success was being continuously "evaluated."
Mr Preece said other states had permanent systems allowing meat from culled kangaroos to be used and Victoria to do the same.
"I would imagine eventually Victoria [would have] a management plan and can open up the whole of the state, just like New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory," he said.
"All these other states have a kangaroo management plan that enables kangaroos to be processed as human consumption or pet food."
The first two years of the trial allowed culled kangaroos to be gathered from twelve local government areas in north east Victoria and western Victoria, where there were the highest number of landholder applications to cull kangaroos.
Two new local government areas will be added this year — Glenelg and Greater Bendigo.
Consultation is under way in other areas.
Making use of the protein
The system is tightly regulated. The company must engage approved shooters and record the details of where the kangaroos are killed. The shooters can only take kangaroos from properties where the department has agreed they are causing damage and a cull is necessary.
Victorian Petfood Processing is part of a company that processes culled kangaroos in New South Wales, where the practice is permanently allowed.
Mr Preece said using the meat for pet food simply made use of a product that would otherwise go to waste.
"In the past, they used to have permits that allowed farmers to just shoot and leave it on the property," he said.
"Now [under this trial] they have permits that allow us to take [the kangaroo] away.
"We also provide information to the department on how many kangaroos are processed from within that farm, or allocated to that permit."
He also said it benefited farmers, because they did not have to pay for contractors to conduct the cull.
The 12 local government areas included so far are Benalla, Mansfield, Mitchell, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Wangaratta, Western Victoria: Ararat, Horsham, Pyrenees, Northern Grampians, Southern Grampians and Yarriambiack.
Glenelg and Bendigo are to be added this year.
Up to 300 Western Australian kangaroo shooters are facing a bleak future following a decision by one of Australia's largest pet food to no longer use locally sourced meat.
Local shooters and producers say they were selling up to 100,000 kangaroo carcasses per year to the Perth processing plant of VIP Pet Foods but were told all future supplies would be shipped in from the eastern states.
AUDIO: WA's 'roo numbers down says pet food producer(ABC Rural)
VIP Pet Foods CEO David Grant said declining numbers of kangaroos in WA coupled with an underutilisation of the company's processing plant in Perth were the driving factors in the decision.
"It's simply a financial decision, we have plenty of capacity in our Queensland facility and better access to kangaroos so it makes sense to process it all in the one location.
"It's about 10 times the size of what we have in WA."
Mr Grant described the overall value of the WA kangaroo meat market to the company as "small" but said the Perth plant would continue to produce dog food from locally sourced chickens.
He said the company would now source mainly eastern grey kangaroos from NSW, South Australia, Victoria and far north Queensland.
Impact to be widely felt
Margaret River pet food producer Troy Childs said he was told through a third party that his long standing arrangement with VIP Pet Foods had been terminated.
"I've been supplying them up to 150 tonnes of meat and carcass a year for seven years which all comes out of the Augusta-Margaret River shire.
"It was worth close to $180,000 and that was at the small end of the scale, they (VIP Pet Foods) were doing close to 100,000 carcases a year in the Perth factory."
Over 300 kangaroo shooters will now be out of work. It's a sad day for our industry,
Troy Childs, Margaret River pet food manufacturer
Mr Childs said it was left to him to deliver the news to the eight shooters who had previously supplied him meat. He said the decision would have far reaching impacts on local industry and agriculture.
"Over 300 kangaroo shooters will now be out of work.
"And it's not just in Margaret River either, you're talking about guys in Manjimup, Albany, Perth and all over the Nullarbor, it's a sad day for our industry."
Loss of income immediate
Margaret River based kangaroo shooter Peter Stonehouse said the decision meant an immediate loss of what he described as a "pretty good income" and valuable service to the community.
"You work for yourself and essentially you could go out and work every night of the week.
"But it's not just that, I'm always getting calls in the middle of the night to humanely put down a 'roo that's been hit by a car."
With few employment prospects in the bustling tourist town, Mr Stonehouse said he was more than likely "going to hit the road and see what happens."
"The kangaroo population is going to get out of control and landholders will just get recreational shooters to go out and shoot them and leave them where they drop.
"We take pride in doing it humanely and responsibly, but that's all over now."
There is a big difference between animals slaughtered in an abattoir with an inspector present and a kangaroo shot in the bush among the dust, dirt and blowflies without any supervision. Ante mortem inspection that excludes animals that are showing signs of disease, is carried out by shooters who are more interested in numbers than health issues.
The kangaroo meat industry’s failure to adhere to hygiene regulations is placing public health at extreme risk.
- Dangerous levels of salmonella and E.coli have been found in kangaroo meat on sale at retail outlets and destined for human consumption.
- The industry is failing to adhere to the Australian standard which determines the conditions under which the animals are harvested, transported and stored.
- There is no enforcement of these standards.
- Most of them don’t know what they’re doing.
2. As well as poisoning from salmonella and E.coli, diners on kangaroo meat sourced from unhygienic environments,also risk contracting other pathogenic diseases, including toxoplasmosis, which can result in foetal death or birth defects in affected women. e.g. a pregnant woman ate kangaroo meat and contracted toxoplasmosis, which was transmitted to her unborn baby. Her baby was born blind.
3. Until the shooters are required to protect the carcases while being taken to the refrigerated storage units there will always be contamination from contaminated dust.
4. The time taken in summer temperatures after the first kangaroo is placed on the outside of the truck until it reaches the refrigerated unit must cause the temperature to be in the extreme danger zone for multiplication of all pathogens.This can only be prevented by shooters carrying the carcases in refrigerated properly constructed units.
In May 2010 their Sydney office was raided by NSW & Queensland police after accusations by the industry that activists had broken into chillers in northern NSW and southern Queensland and contaminated carcasses. Animal Liberation’s spokesman, Mark Pearson, denied the allegations and said all the chillers accessed were unlocked at the time the samples and video evidence were taken. Police said their investigations were continuing and no charges had been laid over twelve months later.
The video footage showed paws and necks touching dirty floors stained with old blood, and fresh blood, kangaroo carcasses crammed so close together that it would be impossible for cool air to circulate adequately.It is essential that kangaroo carcasses in chillers have adequate space to allow the cold air to make contact with the whole carcass that still has not had the skin removed.
Shipping containers are not suitable for refrigerated storage units.
The videos also showed that a kangaroo shooter had blowflies and other insects in the spotlight and there were carcasses hanging on the back of his truck while driving along dusty dirt roads. The dust on the roads contains decomposing vegetable matter, dried faeces of farm animals and kangaroos as well as the dried blood of kangaroos from previous shootings carried on the trucks. The dust must be responsible for the high microbiological numbers.
The kangaroo industry has always claimed that kangaroo meat is the most healthy of meat because ot the low fat content. Recent reports challenge this claim. See (www.australiansocietyforkangaroos.com/not_so_green.html) and the following quote:
“ Executive chairman of Obesity Australia and Professor of Medicine at Monash University John Funder said given that kangaroos had more L-carnitine per gram than any other red meat, consumers should be wary of excessive consumption”. He said companies selling the meat may also have to reconsider how they market it, given that it is widely perceived to be healthier than other red meats.
(“Kangaroo steaks on sale” by Maksym Kozlenko – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org)
KANGAROO PET MEAT
In 2009 dogs and cats were reported to be suffering from thiamine deficiency. The Author and Richard Malik,of Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science, the University of Sydney investigated these cases and wrote an article tiled:Thiamine Deficiency Due to Sulphur Dioxide Preservative in “Pet Meat” – A Case of Déjà Vu.
Firstly, we should advise consumers not to be seduced by the claims on the packaging. Most owners of companion animals wish to do the best they can for their pets. They are told that the contents of ‘pet mince’ and ‘food rolls’ are nutritious and provide the best quality meat for the animals. Furthermore, they are often cheaper than fresh meat fit for human consumption, more convenient to buy and sometimes do not require refrigeration. Owners should be informed that because there is no legal requirement to state the presence preservatives in these foods, their presence is not invariably advertised on the label.
Secondly, we should explain that the use of preservatives does not prevent spoilage or putrefaction, but that rather it only masks the most revealing signs viz. the unsavoury odour and brown discolouration of the meat.
Thirdly, we should draw pet owners’ attention to the fact that ‘pet meat’ has not necessarily been subjected to the stringent meat inspection and processing assessment that occurs for meat designated for human consumption.
by Des Sibraa, a former NSW Meat Inspector who has seen it all first hand.
by R Malik – 2005 – Cited by 8 – Related articles
Aust Vet J. 2005 Jul;83(7):408-11. Thiamine deficiency due to sulphur dioxide preservative in ‘pet meat’–a case of déjà vu. Malik R(1), Sibraa D.