Vietnam abattoir bans come in wake of sledgehammer video

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Video footage has emerged showed Vietnamese abattoir workers beating cattle to death. Video footage has emerged showed Vietnamese abattoir workers beating cattle to death. Video footage has emerged showed Vietnamese abattoir workers beating cattle to death.

A permanent ban on live cattle exports to any facility in Vietnam found to be maltreating animals is one of the measures being implemented by the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council in response to the release of footage showing cattle being bludgeoned to death.


ALEC CEO Alison Penfold says other measures include the tightening of Vietnam supply chain controls and the calling of urgent meetings to improve compliance.

Private investigators hired by Animals Australia secretly filmed Vietnamese abattoir workers using sledgehammers to beat in the heads of at least five cows — which is in breach of Australian live export regulations.

Last week it showed the footage to the Federal Government, which has launched an investigation.

"I watched the sledgehammer footage again last night as part of the 7.30 Report story," Penfold says. "No amount of times watching those animals suffer will lessen how sick and disgusting it is and makes me feel.  I can only imagine how people watching it for the first time must have felt.

"The footage will call into question the genuine individual efforts of exporters over the past year to take actions to tighten supply chain controls and we have a lot of work to do to build trust in the regulatory process set up to protect the welfare of Australian cattle.

"Although we exported more than 300,000 cattle last year to Vietnam, it is individual facility failures which we must address if our industry is going to have any chance of regaining public confidence in live export trade to Vietnam."

Although Animals Australia has claimed the animals are from Australia, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has told the ABC that their country of origin is not yet clear.

"Anyone viewing this footage would be shocked and upset at the mistreatment and we are taking these reports very seriously," he says, adding: "We will not be banning the live cattle trade."


Taking steps

The measures being implemented by ALEC are:

  • A permanent ban on the supply of cattle to any approved facility in Vietnam found in critical breach by the Department
  • Focus on strengthening existing supply chains and facilities via no new ESCAS approvals for any new importer or feedlot in Vietnam until agreed with the Department and industry
  • Initiate a three-month independent inquiry into the traceability and control practices, systems, standards and objectives intended to support the ESCAS animal welfare requirements in Vietnam. The inquiry will be conducted by a panel of experts and report publicly.
  • Refocus supply chain customer commitments to animal welfare compliance through an urgent meeting in Vietnam between all supply chain participants.
  • Seek to fast-track current talks with Vietnamese officials to implement a collaborative animal welfare training program in Vietnam as part of the Vietnamese Government’s ushering in of a new animal welfare law on 1 July 2016.
  • Convene an urgent meeting with all audit companies that provide or could provide ESCAS audit services in Vietnam and the Department of Agriculture & Water Resources to discuss audit challenges in the market.
  • Openly address the concerns of all stakeholders, understand the in-market challenges and find common ground on solutions for improving animal welfare that supports the trade by convening a workshop of exporters, Animals Australia, RSPCA, Cattle Council of Australia,  the Department of Agriculture & Water Resources, regional representatives of the OIE and representatives from the Vietnamese Government.
  • Continue discussions with Cattle Council of Australia on measures that provide further transparency on supply chain activities.
  • Establish an ALEC Ethics Committee to peer review the behaviour of any member that brings the industry into disrepute and as a means of sanctioning members, including expulsion.


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