Live export industry holds crisis meeting in wake of continued cruelty in Vietnam

RSPCA Australia is urging the Government to suspend further exports to Vietnam pending the review of all Vietnamese supply chains approved under the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), following revelations the live export industry held an emergency meeting about the country’s inability to meet basic OIE guidelines.

Despite more than two years having elapsed since ESCAS was required in Vietnam, the industry has admitted that exported animals are still at risk of horrific cruelty.

Reports of cattle being beaten with sledgehammers and exposed to the horrifying act of ‘flooding’, which sees water forced via a hose down the throat in a bid to make them heavier at slaughter, have been confirmed by industry.

“The key problem with Vietnam is that the number of approved abattoirs has grown like topsy, from zero to 89 in 2 years, each one needing to be rapidly brought up to speed with OIE guidelines and each one multiplying the risk of non-compliance,” said Dr Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist.

“In this short space of time there are now more abattoirs processing Australian cattle in Vietnam than there are in Australia.

“If abuse is commonplace in non-approved facilities, it’s ludicrous to suggest that the industry has been able to stamp it out in approved abattoirs; it takes far more than an occasional audit and a voluntary training course to permanently change entrenched practices.

“The industry’s trumpeting of the uptake of stunning in Vietnam also needs to be treated with great caution, as ineffective stunning can have appalling outcomes and lead to prolonged animal suffering,” said Dr Jones.

There are several key factors that must be in place to achieve good animal welfare outcomes in slaughter facilities:
- Enforceable animal welfare legislation
- A skilled, trained and permanent workforce
- Requirement for pre-slaughter stunning
- Regular auditing against measurable animal welfare standards

“Australian export abattoirs meet all these requirements - yet the live export industry continues to push to expand its markets into places where none of these can be guaranteed,” said Dr Jones.