The Australian Government is aware of conflicting media reports about the culling of Australian sheep in Pakistan due to health reasons.
Infected Australian sheep to be culled | Photographer: (AFP: Asif Hassan)
Animal health and welfare is a priority for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). DAFF is continuing to work cooperatively with the exporter, the Australian High Commission in Pakistan, and Pakistani authorities, to clarify misunderstandings.
However, to the best of our knowledge, the sheep remain healthy and pose no risk for human consumption.
This statement is only half of the story and does not explain how they got through customs or what bribes if any were paid ro Pakistan authorities.There is no government explaination as to "Why the sheep were rejected in Bahrain"
There have been suggestions that some have scabby mouth. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) regards this as a common and minor disease in all sheep across the world, and they do not regard it as needing notification. There is no risk to human health from eating animals with scabby mouth.
In relation to other reported concerns, bacteria such as actinomyces, salmonella and E. Coli are part of normal gut flora and are present in livestock throughout the world. They also pose no threat for human consumption.
In order to remove speculation and rumour from coverage of this matter, DAFF can present the following facts and timelines:
• Earlier this month a consignment of approximately 21,000 sheep was exported to Pakistan by Australian firm Wellard Rural Exports (WRE). The sheep were sold to Pakistan for human consumption.
• DAFF approved the export because we could certify the sheep met the Pakistan importing country requirements.
• The shipment to Pakistan was allowed once DAFF approved a variation to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) arrangements, which requires international animal welfare standards.
• The Australian Government is aware of conflicting and contradictory media reports in Pakistan.
The statements and claims circulating in many international media reports lack credibility.
• For example, some outlets have stated the sheep have Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). We know that Australia is FMD-free and the last outbreak of the disease in Australia occurred well over a century ago, in 1872.
• The Australian Government is confident the sheep delivered to Pakistan were healthy on departure from Australia. The welfare and animal health of the sheep was closely monitored by a DAFF accredited veterinarian on board the vessel and no major disease issues were reported.
• The animal health requirements were verified with Pakistan officials before Australia issued the animal health certificate.
• The animals were inspected by Pakistan’s veterinary health officials on arrival and were approved as meeting Pakistan requirements.
• Almost 100 samples were tested by Pakistan’s National Veterinary Laboratories in Islamabad after the first claims of disease were made, and all tests conducted reported negative findings.
• The same ship that carried the sheep to Pakistan also delivered sheep to Muscat in Oman and Doha in Qatar where they have been unloaded without incident and are being processed.
• Despite this, the Government understands some of the reports are concerning. We are monitoring all the reports and treating this situation seriously.
• DAFF is working cooperatively with, and seeking information from the exporter, the Australian High Commission in Pakistan, and Pakistani authorities, to clarify misunderstandings.
• If it is found that the Government’s stringent animal welfare standards have not been met, we will fully investigate as part of a routine regulatory response.
• DAFF has confirmed that on 16 and 17 September, local Pakistan authorities undertook a cull of sheep.
• This cull has since ceased, with the Pakistani importer currently working with the courts and Federal authorities in an effort to place an injunction on local authorities.
• The importer and exporter are seeking support for further testing to prove the health status of the sheep.
• The sheep are currently being held in a feedlot from which they were intended for humane slaughter for human consumption. DAFF has been advised the sheep have adequate food and water.
Australia has a very positive reputation as a market leader in the export of live animals. While our current trade with Pakistan is low, both Australian and Pakistani exporters want to see levels improve.
DAFF will continue to work with the Australian High Commission and the Pakistan Government officials to resolve the situation and ensure a strengthening of the relationship and understanding between the countries and businesses.
The Department will provide further information as it becomes available and can be verified through official channels.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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