Among Voiceless’s recent media appearances, new Voiceless research exposing the dangerous hygiene surrounding kangaroo meat for human consumption was recently highlighted on ABC’s Lateline, bringing mainstream attention to issues within this cruel industry.
Voiceless Director and ecologist, Dr Dror Ben-Ami, featured in a prominent report on the current affairs program alongside Animal Liberation NSW’s Mark Pearson, discussing their extensive research findings of poor hygiene in kangaroo meat.
In 2009, Russia banned the import of kangaroo meat after high levels of bacterial contamination, a finding Voiceless and Animal Liberation believe continues to this day due to poor regulation of hygiene methods.
Across a number of years, Voiceless and Animal Liberation purchased kangaroo meat intended for human consumption from Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarkets in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and had the samples tested in an independent laboratory.
Of the 26 samples taken, eight tested positive for the bacteria salmonella and 11 samples showed relatively high levels of E. coli bacteria.
One of the major retailer’s quality assurance standard for raw meat allows for an E. coli count of less than 10 colony-forming units per gram of meat while testing of one sample found an E. coli count of 46,000 colony forming units per gram and tested positive for salmonella.
Another sample also returned an E. coli level of 24,000 per gram and tested positive for salmonella. These were among the highest results found.
“Some of the levels of E. coli that we're finding are actually very disturbing. I mean, they're just at such high levels that the meat is just off, I mean, it's just completely off. Not all, just some of the samples at that level,” Dr Ben-Ami told Lateline.
“But when we compared what we found in kangaroo meat to, for instance, lamb, which is manufactured in a similar way, you don't have that level of contamination.”
The Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia told Lateline that the industry produces kangaroo meat with extremely tight government controls. It is this level of regulatory control that Voiceless disputes, especially in regards to welfare.
Also discussed in a widely-publicised opinion piece from Voiceless CEO Dana Campbell, Voiceless took a stance against a proposed plan in Victoria to turn its annual cull into a commercial practice. The article appeared in over 50 separate Fairfax online publications and brought further attention to the rampant cruelty within the commercial kangaroo industry.
Kangaroos are shot in the wild and at night when they are most active, so the cruelty associated with the slaughter is largely hidden from the public. Shooters are required by the commercial Code of Practice to aim to shoot a kangaroo in the brain for an instantaneous death, but non-fatal body shots are unavoidable and cause horrific and painful injuries. Kangaroos are often found missing limbs, jaws or suffering gaping wounds due to the difficulty of the shot. Government monitoring of the slaughter to ensure it complies with the Code is largely non-existent.
Meanwhile joeys that are not used by the industry must be killed; either shot, decapitated or their heads bashed with a hard and heavy blunt instrument such as a truck’s towbar. This brutal treatment is instructed by the Code.
Those joeys not killed by these means are subject to dying slow stressful deaths due to starvation, predation or hypothermia. Each year approximately 855,000 dependent joeys are killed in this way as collateral damage of the kangaroo industry, and yet it is being propagated as ‘humane’.
It is the gap between what the Code and regulation requires and what is actually happening on the ground that is of greatest concerned for Voiceless.
These activities have been complemented by Voiceless Patron and former High Court judge Michael Kirby appearing on ABC’s Lateline arguing for a rethink of laws governing animal protection. In an impressive interview, Michael Kirby discussed the relevance of animal sentience and the need for Australia’s legal system to recognise this factor.