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Kangaroo Meat: Not so Clean, Green nor Humane

There has been a massive marketing campaign by the kangaroo industry in recent years promoting kangaroo meat as humane, good for you and good for the environment. This marketing campaign has one intention; to increase profits for the kangaroo industry. However when you take a closer look at the campaign, it has serious flaws and is not supported by credible science. Read on...

NOT SO GREEN

Environmental arguments that kangaroo meat is a sustainable alternative to beef and lamb does not withstand rigorous scientific scrutiny, according to ecologists Dr David Croft, Dr Dror Ben Ami and Dr Dan Ramp from the 'THINKK' tank at the University of Technology (UTS) Sydney.

According to scientists at the UTS, the number of kangaroos necessary to replace meat production from sheep and cows is ecologically unfeasible. They found that to provide Australians with just one small portion of kangaroo meat per week, 22 million kangaroos would have to be killed every year. The total population of kangaroos would need to be 151 million to support this off-take. This is more than five times the 30-year average population of 27 million, to provide one serving of meat per Australian per week. Therefore the "go green, eat roo" push is sham science.

Please refer to the news articles, THINKK'S report and other relevant articles below:

NOT SO GOOD FOR YOU

Kangaroo meat may not be as healthy as previously thought after scientists found a component of red meat most prevalent in the iconic Australian animal is linked to heart disease. A study published in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine found that a compound in red meat called L-carnitine is associated with the build up of plaque in arteries which causes heart attacks, strokes and vascular disease. To find out more open the link to the article here:

In regards to the hygiene risks associated with eating kangaroo, the European Union has recognised the potential dangers of game meats, with the European Council issuing a Directive on the killing of wild game and the placing of wild-game meat on the market.This report shows that the hygiene standards surrounding the production of kangaroo meat do not presently meet the Australian nor the European standards. You can read more about this in the THINKK report here:

According to a former NSW Chief Food Inspector, Dr Desmond Sibraa, the kangaroo meat industry's failure to adhere to hygiene regulations is placing public health at risk. Dangerous levels of salmonella and E.coli have been found in kangaroo meat destined for human consumption, backing up claims that the industry is failing to adhere to the Australian standard which determines the conditions under which the animals are harvested, transported and stored. As well as poisoning from salmonella and E.coli, diners on kangaroo sourced from unhygienic environments risk contracting toxoplasmosis, which can result in foetal death or birth defects in affected women.

Please see full story here.

Greens MP Dr John Kaye has also spoken out publicly against the kangaroo industry and reported on the results of his investigation into the hygiene standards of the kangaroo meat industry. In various media reports Dr Kaye reported that:

“documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show that 68 inspections by the Food Authority over a year revealed 16 separate compliance breaches ranging from minor to unacceptable. No one in NSW can eat kangaroo meat and not put themselves at some risk of infection. These documents reveal that the so-called healthy alternative to other red meats could be riddled with pathogens. Poor hygiene practices have potentially devastating consequences for any food but game meat is particularly vulnerable. The breaches are said to include animal carcasses being hung from rusty hooks, a lack of cleaning facilities, and live and dead animals being left alongside each other.”

You can read Dr Kaye's full media report at the link below:

The Australian Institute of Food Safety also reported these findings on their blog which explains the details of the investigation and what this means for food safety and the human consumption of kangaroo meat. It added that:

“this isn't the first time that kangaroo meat has been called into question by the food safety authorities. Approximately five years ago Fairfax media released evidence that showed kangaroo meat obtained from supermarkets contained shockingly high levels of Ecoli and Salmonella. A lecturer at the University of Technology in Sydney, Dr Dan Ramp, suggested that because kangaroo is a type of game meat, it is difficult for high levels of hygiene to be ensured through processing practices. Because they are hunted in the bush and then placed in shipping containers, there is a wide scope of possibility for cross contamination”

You can view the full food safety report at the blog link below:

Dr David Obendorf is an Australian wildlife veterinary pathologist and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board to the International Animal Health Body. He has 20 years’ experience in the parasites and diseases of Australian fauna and notes: “kangaroos can harbour a wide range of parasitic bacterial, fungal and viral diseases. Some of the diseases which have been documented affect only kangaroos and so reduce harvest capacity. Others can affect humans as well and so raise serious public health concerns”.

You can see Dr Obendorf's report here.

Independently assessed samples (Silliker 2008) obtained by Animal Liberation NSW from biopsies performed on carcasses located in remote kangaroo chillers in Queensland, showed the levels of generic Escherichia coli to be so high that they warranted Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) alerts known as E.Coli ALERTs (AQIS 2008). (THINKK, 2010)

Laboratory testing conducted by Biotech laboratories on 25 kangaroo meat samples taken from Australian supermarkets showed 75% contamination with Salmonella and/or E.coli. You can view the results here (Adobe PDF format).

In 2009 Russia banned the importation of kangaroo meat after consistent bacterial E.Coli contamination and human safety fears. Canada has also banned the importation of kangaroo meat.

After 3 years of unrelenting pressure from the kangaroo industry and Australian politicians who support the industry, Russia reluctantly agreed to allow the importation of a very small and highly monitored shipment of kangaroo meat to it's country in December 2012, but this wasn't to last and in May 2014 ASK discovered that Russia had placed yet another ban on the import of kangaroo meat to their country.

According to a Russian Agricultural Department website, Macro Meats, Australia's largest kangaroo meat company, had been on notice for some time prior to May 2014 and was given several warnings by Russia to lift it's 'game' and stop sending contaminated kangaroo meat to it's country. However the kangaroo industry was unable to do this and in May 2014 Russian placed yet another ban on Macro Meats, completely shutting down the kangaroo meat export business to Russia. The ABC reported on the matter widely and you can view some of the news reports below:

The European Union is currently considering banning the importation of all kangaroo products. Related story here.

The kangaroo industry claims that kangaroo meat is good for you because of its high content of CLA, Conjugated Linoleic Acid. But what they don’t tell you is that the high content of CLA is only present in Western Grey Kangaroos IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES (CSIRO). So unless the packaged kangaroo meat is specifically marked as being ‘Western Grey kangaroo’ claims of health benefits are completely misleading.

Your Pets May also be at Risk

Fresh kangaroo meat is poisoning animals - Veterinarian's urgent warning.
Read more at the news link below:
http://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/fresh-pet-food-is-poisoning-animals-and-could-leave-them-brain-damaged-vets-warn/story-fnii5s3x-1226912851550.


A Today Tonight investigation revealed that pet meat made from kangaroo could be harming and even killing our pets. Please see link to story here.

Maggots on kangaroo meat destined for petfood.
These photos were taken in a kangaroo processing plant for human consumption (courtesy WPAA)

NOT SO HUMANE

Kangaroos are not farmed. Every year the kangaroo industry slaughters millions of kangaroos and their joey's in the wild for their meat and skins. It is the largest land-based wildlife slaughter in the world.

Following an investigation by the RSPCA into the kangaroo industry, there were found to be serious animal welfare issues relating to the treatment of dependent pouch young and young at foot. According to the RSPCA report, the way in which pouch joey's are killed by the industry, that is by decapitation and clubbing, ”is not considered a humane method of euthanasia”. In regard to the fate of dependent joey's at foot: “a proportion of kangaroos orphaned through shooting will die of starvation, exposure or predation in the days and weeks following the loss of their mother”.

You can see the RSPCA report for yourself here.

The RSPCA has serious concerns about the humaneness and necessity of killing kangaroos and made this statement on their website:

There are a number of aspects of the current management of kangaroos that do not conform to these conditions, such as:

  • Large numbers of kangaroos are shot inhumanely every year, particularly under the non-commercial system.
  • Each time a female kangaroo is shot her dependent joey is either killed by the shooter or will die as a result of predation, dehydration or starvation. The RSPCA has serious concerns about the suffering caused by shooting females with pouch young.
  • The process of setting quotas for killing kangaroos does not relate population reduction directly to damage mitigation. Kangaroo management plans are now treating kangaroos as a sustainable resource available for commercial use, rather than making a decision for control as a result of examining the welfare of kangaroos or their impact on the environment.
Until these issues have been properly addressed, questions remain about the humaneness of kangaroo shooting and the basis for current government policies on the management and killing of kangaroos.

Despite claims by some kangaroo meat processing companies that they no longer target females, government data obtained by the Australian Society for Kangaroos from state government records shows that at least 130,000 female kangaroos were killed by the kangaroo industry in 2014 alone resulting in the cruel death of at least 100,000 pouch and at-foot dependent joeys who were decapitated, bludgeoned/clubbed to death or left to die as orphans from starvation, stress, predation and exposure after their mother was shot by commercial shooters.

You can access this data on the number of females killed from state government annual Quota Commercial Kangaroo Harvest report.

For more on the killing of females and the fate of kangaroo joeys please go to our web page Silent Victims at the link below:

David Nicholls, a former commercial kangaroo shooter, challenges the view that the kangaroo industry is humane:

“The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive. Backbones can be pulverised to an unrecognisable state. Hind legs can be shattered with the kangaroo desperately trying to get away on the other or without the use of the other. To deny that this goes on is just an exercise in attempting to fool the public.”

“Kangaroos have a social life not unlike humans, with strong mother and joey ties, companions relatives and the like. When continually shot, kangaroos fret for loved ones, their own lives being forced to live in a state of spasmodic terror. Kangaroos can be and are horribly wounded, in pouch joeys are bludgeoned to death. The out of pouch joeys all alone for the first time in their short lives, panic stricken after witnessing the brutal death of its mother are left to die from starvation and;or hypothermia. The survivors live in a state of constant fear with proper social order in constant disarray and upheaval”, 'The Kangaroo- Falsely Maligned by Tradition' (Kangaroo Myths and Realities, 2005)

Keely Boom and Dr Ben Ami at UTS (THINKK) state:

“the pro-kangaroo industry argument fails to recognise adequately the sentience of wild animals; the fact that these creatures, like us, are conscious beings with the capacity to perceive and feel, and, in the case of kangaroos, with complex social structures and strong maternal-infant bonds. The disregard for individual animal's lives which goes hand in hand with the ecosystem-level approach is compounded by parallel failures on the part of law and policy pertaining to kangaroos to protect these animals”.

Their conclusion is stark: "Current law and policy is a form of legalised cruelty against adult kangaroos and joeys."

You can view THINKK's report on cruelty within the kangaroo industry here.

Maggots on kangaroo meat destined for petfood.
At least 100,000 baby kangaroo joeys are being orphaned, clubbed to death or decapitated every year by the commercial kangaroo industry after their mother is shot for her meat and skins.
The joey on the left is an orphaned at foot joey rescued after a kangaroo cull at Bathurst NSW.

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