The RSPCA is calling on the Australian Government to urgently update the current Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) to prohibit the use of cruel inversion boxes in abattoirs overseas.

The Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, today announced the re-opening of the live export trade to Egypt under ESCAS, days after a damning government report was released which detailed cruel handling and slaughter of Australian animals at the Ain Sokhna abattoir.

The Egyptian abattoir uses a slaughter box that rotates cattle upside down prior to having their throats cut while fully conscious – a device approved for use in several other ESCAS supply chains.

“Inversion slaughter boxes are unquestionably cruel and have no place in an Australian approved facility,” said Dr Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist.

“Even when these slaughter devices are working properly they’re incapable of delivering good animal welfare outcomes, yet the government has failed to act to remove them.

“If the Australian public and cattle producers knew the full details about the suffering that cattle endure in these devices, they’d be horrified,” said Dr Jones.

The RSPCA is also calling on the government to release the slaughter assessment reports from the four Department of Agriculture veterinarians sent to Egypt in 2013 as part of the 2013 investigation and explain why animal welfare audits of the two abattoirs were never conducted.

“Despite previous arrangements (MoUs) having many of the hallmarks of ESCAS, they failed to protect Australian cattle from significant and ongoing cruelty - how can the Australian public trust it will be any different now?” said Dr Jones. 

“Egypt has an appalling record in animal welfare and we have no confidence that ESCAS will deliver anything better.”

Media contact: Elise Meakin, 0419 748 907, emeakin@rspca.org.au