Israeli Authorities investigating cruel treatment of Australian animals

December 12, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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An ABC investigative report crafted by an Israeli journalist has exposed unacceptable levels of cruelty  to animals imported for slaughter from Australia.

 

The report, screened on the 7:30 report, has revealed that an Israeli government investigation has been instigated and those responsible for the cruelty dismissed from their jobs.

 

The following is a complete text of the program

CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: Shocking new video of cattle being abused at an Israeli abattoir has prompted a criminal investigation in that country. A separate inquiry here is trying to determine whether the animals were shipped from Australia. 7.30 has discovered the abattoir was audited for one of Australia’s biggest live exporters just two months before the film was shot and given a clean bill of health. The auditing of meat works was forced by last year’s outcry over live animal exports, but activists insist the system doesn’t work. Conor Duffy has this report – and a warning the story contains disturbing images.

CONOR DUFFY, REPORTER: The workers at Israel’s largest abattoir, Bakar Tnuva, are liberal with their use of the electric stun gun. As the cattle bellow and writhe, the workers target the cattle’s eyes, genitals and anus.

ABATTOIR WORKER (translated): You have a pipe, the shocker, and you put it in his arse.

RONEN BAR, ISRAELI JOURNALIST: These were the exact instructions of the managers in my first day there. The security manager told me, “You have a probe, you have a stick, you use them to prompt the animals. If a calf doesn’t move shove the electric probe in his ass and he will move.”

CONOR DUFFY: It’s clearly painful and distressing, but worse is to come. An injured animal refuses to move and management watch on as it’s dragged by a front leg behind a fork lift.

RONEN BAR: These are the regular procedures, it’s not what was shown, is not something special or something that is not everyday regularity.

CONOR DUFFY: This footage was captured on a hidden camera in September by Israeli journalist and vegan animal rights actist Ronen Bar who worked there undercover for 19 days. It was broadcast on Israeli television last week, causing an outcry. The Israeli Government has now launched a criminal investigation.

Mr Bar says most of the animals he filmed are Australian.

RONEN BAR: 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.

CONOR DUFFY: It’s impossible to tell from the footage if the animals came from Australia. But the Department of Agriculture says they may well have.

PHILLIP GLYDE, DEPUTY SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: It’s a reasonable expectation, and we’re conducting an investigation and we’re doing that in conjunction with the Israeli authorities who are conducting their own investigations.

CONOR DUFFY: Deputy Secretary Phillip Glide says that three Australian companies previously exported to Bakar Tnuva. Elders International say the cattle in the footage aren’t theirs, and Livestock Shipping Services say its last shipment arrived in March.

CONOR DUFFY: Adom Adom owns the abattoir and is in a major beef supplier in Israel. It says it receives cattle from a number of countries and doesn’t know if these animals came from Australia.

The vision also shows the cattle being slaughtered. There are no reflex tests to ensure the animals are unconscious and cattle are moved as they bleed to death.

BIDDA JONES, RSPCA CHIEF SCIENTIST: When you’ve got an animal that is in pain because it is losing consciousness from a cut to the throat, it’s losing blood very rapidly, but it is still… this is a painful situation it’s in. Anything that happens to that animal adds to the pain that it’s enduring while it is still conscious.

FOUR CORNERS (2011): These are the pictures the cattle industry doesn’t want you to see. The cruelty and suffering…

CONOR DUFFY: This treatment was supposed to have ended following the outcry over a Four Corners report last year. After that program aired, live exports to Indonesia were suspended and a new export supply chain assurance scheme introduced to ensure better animal welfare outcomes.

The RSPCA’s chief scientist has analysed the footage and written to the Department of Agriculture, saying the vision proves the abattoir fails to meet basic guidelines.

BIDDA JONES: But what I’ve observed in this abattoir breaches the standards that are set by the exporters Supply Chain Assurance Scheme multiple times. So in terms of the way in which animals are moved around in the pens prior to slaughter, the use of the prodder, the number of times the prodder was used, the way in which it was used, the dragging of animals to move animals through the pens, picking up animals and throwing them – all of those things are clear breaches of the SCAS standards and of OIE – that’s the international animal welfare guidelines.

CONOR DUFFY: The RSPCA also says the new auditing scheme to monitor animal welfare standards is not working in practice. 7.30 has learnt Elders commissioned an auditor to assess Bakar Tnuva in July and that the abattoir passed the audit with just one condition.

ELDERS AUDIT FINDINGS (voiceover): The following noncompliances were identified: rusty gate causing excessive noise.

CONOR DUFFY: After completion of the audit, representatives of the organisation carried out immediate CA with grease on the rusted door and “confirmed as OK”.

BIDDA JONES: I just couldn’t believe that. After having looked at the footage and understanding how many things are wrong, how could an auditor have walked in the door of that place and thought that it was acceptable? I just don’t understand.

RONEN BAR: This report is a joke. It says that they found a rusty gate there or something like that. You can see in the photos the rusty gate is not the first thing you would notice at a place like that. I didn’t notice it – maybe because it’s not a very sharp-eyed investigator.

CONOR DUFFY: Elders International declined to answer questions about their audit. The company says it will require another independent audit before continuing to ship to Bakar Tnuva, as does Live Stock Shipping Services. The Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Secretary says its investigation will look at how the facility passed the initial audit.

PHILLIP GLYDE: Certainly we were appalled by what we saw on that video and what was brought to light by the Israeli TV crew – that’s just not acceptable – but it doesn’t mean that the system’s not working.

CONOR DUFFY: He insists the changes to live export laws are robust, and that this was just an initial audit that would have been followed by others.

PHILLIP GLYDE: People can have faith and people have to understand that you can’t get 100 per cent right all the time. Any system can have failures and our job is to try to find out if there’s any problems in the system, if there are poor performers in the system our job is to identify them and make sure they’re not part of the industry.

CONOR DUFFY: Jock Laurie from the National Farmers Federation viewed the footage today.

JOCK LAURIE, NATIONAL FARMERS ASSOCIATION: Some of that footage, I think, was, you know… pretty difficult to watch because you’re seeing animals in distress… you know, people who deal with livestock simply don’t like seeing animals in distress being mistreated, and I think in those circumstances it’s very disappointing.

CONOR DUFFY: Mr Laurie says the new system is working, and another audit will allow practices like those at the Bakar Tnuva abattoir to be corrected.

JOCK LAURIE: I think watching that footage, it just shows how important it is that the Australian industry continues in those markets and continues working in those markets to increase animal welfare standards. I think once we go out of the system there’s not too many other people that are working there to continually improve.

CONOR DUFFY: A spokeswoman for the abattoir’s owners said consultants from Meat and Livestock Australia are arriving today to retrain its staff.

ADOM ADOM SPOKESWOMAN (voiceover): We would like to emphasise unequivocally that we condemn the behaviour that was presented in the video. Rude, sadistic behaviour – as presented – is conflicted with the company’s procedures. The plant manage has resigned, and all contract workers involved in this case were suspended immediately.

CONOR DUFFY: Overnight, protestors took to the streets in Tel Aviv calling for management at the abattoir to be jailed and for Australia to halt live exports.

PROTESTER: I think the exposure is another proof that live exports should be banned and the sooner the better.

PROTESTER II: Australia must stop shipping this kind of beef to Israel.

CONOR DUFFY: As animal welfare advocates prepare for another round of battle, industry is warning shutting down live exports will just see more suffering.

BIDDA JONES: In my view, no Australian animals or any other animals should be going into this abattoir until the staff have been trained properly and the infrastructure is put in place to let animals be handled appropriately.

Read the responses to 7.30 from Livestock Shipping Services and the abattoir owners Adom Adom.

Elders also responded to 7.30, saying, “Elders will only deal with importers who satisfy ESCAS regulations and given a range of corrective actions that will need to be addressed, Elders will be requiring a further Independent Audit be completed.

“As Elders is not the exporter involved with the cattle shown in the footage we will not be making a comment at this stage.

“We will review the program once it airs this evening and respond if appropriate.”

And since the story aired, the National Farmers’ Federation have released the following statement:

Screenshot: ABC 7:30 Report

Inhumane animal handling in an Israeli abattoir, as seen on ABC’s 7:30 Report, is unacceptable, says the Australian livestock and livestock export industries. 

The treatment of animals seen in the Bakar Tnuva abattoir in Israel is especially disappointing, given the facility was deemed suitable to receive Australian cattle earlier this year. 

“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,” said Jock Laurie, President of the National Farmers’ Federation. 

“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.” 

The Israeli Ministry of Environment and the Department of Police are currently investigating whether criminal charges are to be laid under Israel’s Cruelty to Animals Law. 

The welfare of animals is of paramount concern to the Australian red meat and livestock industry. Australia is the only country, from more than 100 countries across the world that export livestock, which actively works in overseas markets to help improve animal welfare conditions and associated infrastructure and training. 

Significant improvements in animal welfare have been made in facilities across Australia’s livestock export markets in Asia and the Middle East through the implementation of the new animal welfare regulatory framework – the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) – which will cover 100 per cent of markets by the end of this year. Under ESCAS, all facilities that are approved by the Federal Government to receive Australian animals are regularly monitored to assure the agreed standards of animal welfare are maintained. 

The Australian industry strongly supports the Federal Governments regulatory framework and will continue to deliver initiatives that encourage and assist compliance. 

“The industry is committed to improving animal welfare,” Mr Laurie said. “Achieving positive results requires a long term investment in animal welfare across all markets. Importantly, we are also seeing Australia’s higher standards leading to better treatment of non-Australian livestock in a number of our export countries.”

It is important that Australia remains a part of the livestock export trade, continuing in its role as a world leader in the delivery of positive animal welfare outcomes. 

This statement was issued by the National Farmers’ Federation, the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, the Cattle Council of Australia and the Sheepmeat Council of Australia.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has commenced an investigation into a complaint of animal cruelty at the Israeli abattoir.

The complaint has been received from an Australian animal welfare organisation, and concerns footage of mistreatment of sheep and cattle that was aired on Israel’s television program Kolbotek, last Thursday 6 December. It was broadcast again this evening on the ABC’s 730 program.

The images are distressing and show some staff actions that are not consistent with the animal welfare standards that are a condition of approval for the export of Australian animals.

The exporter supply chain assurance system (ESCAS) requires Australian livestock to be treated in accordance with World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards.

Initial independent audits are conducted as part of an exporter establishing a supply chain. The initial audit establishes whether the supply chain can meet Australia’s regulatory requirements. Further regular performance audits are then required after animals have entered that supply chain.

An initial independent audit of the Bakar Tnuva abattoir was undertaken in July 2012.   DAFF publicly released a summary of the outcomes of the initial audit on 4 December 2012. The initial audit found the abattoir met ESCAS requirments.

However, the initial independent audit was just that, a first initial audit. Australian livestock exporters currently with consignments in Israel will be required to submit subsequent performance audits after livestock have moved through the supply chain.

The Australian Government has also taken a number of actions on this matter:

As the independent regulator in Australia, DAFF is investigating the issues raised in the Israeli TV show and on the 730 program.
DAFF has formally approached Israeli authorities welcoming their investigation and offering to assist in any way possible.
The Department also welcomes the reports from the CEO of the abattoir that the plant manager will be replaced and the contract workers involved have been ordered not to come to work.

DAFF has sought additional assurances from exporters that they remain in a position to comply with ESCAS. The abattoir in question is only included in one Australian exporter’s supply chain and the exporter has been directed to commission an additional audit of the abattoir.
DAFF has contacted Australian exporters and the industry councils, ALEC, MLA and LiveCorp to ensure they are working with their members to have ESCAS requirements met for future consignments of livestock to Israel.
DAFF also reminds people that anyone – exporters, animal welfare organisations, the media, members of the public – with information that ESCAS standards are not being met should immediately report that information to the Department.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Canberra told J-Wire:  “The allegations raised in yesterday’s program were the result of an investigation by an Israeli journalist and the issue has received significant coverage in the Israeli media. This coverage resulted in yesterday’s broadcast in Australia.

The authorities in Israel, including the police, the Ministry of Agriculture, and animal welfare agencies are investigating the matter and consider it a serious and urgent case. We believe that charges will be laid in due course.

The government of Israel is fully committed to cooperate with the Australian authorities on the subject.

Like you, the Embassy is shocked and saddened by the reports. The treatment of the animals is cruel and completely fails to meet our expectations and the expectations placed on all facilities by both the authorities and customers.

We do, however, need to alert you to the fact that the mistreatments that you have contacted us about are the result of actions of a single specific business by a limited number of individuals. While inexcusable, they are a phenomenally improper departure from the way that the Israeli livestock industry operates and our expectations for the entire industry. We look forward to further investigations by the relevant agencies and have the utmost confidence that they will thoroughly and properly consider the case.

We again reiterate that the allegations first raised by Israeli media are being seriously and urgently investigated; that the events under investigation are not systemic, nor are they in any way typical; and that we will continue to monitor progress.”

 

Comments

6 Responses to “Israeli Authorities investigating cruel treatment of Australian animals”
  1. Shelby says:

    Truly barbaric. Australia needs to halt live animal exports to not just Israel but all Middle Eastern and Asian countries. The images are very distressing especially coming from Jewish people. Considering all the brutal treatment they previously have received, one would think they out of all people would not participate and allow such brutal treatment on other living beings.

    • Shirlee. says:

      Just perfect Shelby. Just perfect.

      Now you’ve shown your true colours you can go play elsewhere.
      YOU BIGOT !!
      I won’t bring myself down to your level to describe what you are.

      FYI 20% of the population of Israel is Arab ergo NOT JEWISH.

      Add to that around 3% are Christian and there are others.

      Your presumption is disgusting

  2. Harry Joachim says:

    Judith – yes, the images are barbaric, but this has nothing to do with “Jewish people”. One slaughterhouse engaged in such practices and it just happens that it is situated in Israel. According to your (il)logic, all Jews worldwide are therefore “barbaric” because of the behaviour of staff at a slaughterhouse most people had never heard of until this report.

    Similarly, your logic would dictate that, as the slaughterhouse employees are all males, ergo all males are barbaric.

    Do you see the fallacy inherent in your logic?!

  3. Shirlee. says:

    Judith

    This is not about “religious rubbish” Quite the reverse

    If you bothered to look further before condemning you would have read that the Israeli government closed this abattoir down immediately this came to light. Also Australian inspectors examined this abattoir only a matter of weeks ago and gave it the OK

    This is a disgrace not only form the point of animals being treated so cruelly, but also is against the Jewish religion

    Jewish Law says that and animal must not suffer or be hurt prior to slaughter and that’s why there are so many rules in place regarding the killing of an animal. This raises a great many isses

    This is disgraceful. The Government will sort it out

  4. Judith says:

    I am shocked & horrified at the footage shown by the ABC in Australia, never imagined that jewish people could be so barbaric, I am afraid I have to change my mind about alot of things in regard to the Middle East, think the Arabs & Jews deserve each other, when will this religious rubbish ever end?

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