A provocative statement by the producer of a film on kangaroos that the way kangaroo meat is harvested means that it “cannot avoid contamination”, has alarmed the $200m a year Australian kangaroo meat industry.
Mick McIntyre, producer director of the film Kangaroo A love/hate story - told ABC News Breakfast that Australians should be alarmed by the treatment of kangaroos in harvesting.
Although saying he wanted to raise issues for wide discussion, he appeared to take aim at the kangaroo meat industry, saying “this is shocking (the way kangaroos are harvested), all Australians should watch this”. “There are issues that are really concerning for us as Australians. There is the issue of hygiene of kangaroo meat. The contamination of the meat is unavoidable. It’s time to see how we treat our national icon.”
The executive officer of the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia Dennis King said Mr McIntyre’s claims of contamination were patently false.
He said all kangaroo meat processors had to follow strict food safety guidelines set down by the Government - otherwise they wouldn’t be in business.
In 30 years he had not heard of one ecoli or salmonella case reported to the KIAA data base.
The Australian premiere of kangaroo is being held in inner-Sydney suburb of Newtown tonight (March 13) before travelling to other areas of NSW and Australia. The film is supported by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon who recently showed it to members of the European Community in Brussels, seemingly in a bid to stop kangaroo meats imports into Europe. She maintains harvesting of kangaroos is unsustainable for the kangaroo population.
Before her departure last week, Senator Rhiannon said : “The delegation will present information on how the industrial-scale commercial and non-commercial shooting of Australia’s native wildlife poses a major risk to kangaroos as they are slow-growing, low-reproducing animals.
“The Australian delegation will discuss with MEPs and animal welfare group the need to investigate the effects of the European kangaroo trade on kangaroos
“The European opening of the movie ‘Kangaroo: a love, hate story’ is an important opportunity to build understanding about the threats kangaroos face in Australia.
“We will use the evidence to show that kangaroos are in trouble.“
She said on facebook: “Will it (Federal Government) stop putting the profits of the kangaroo industry before human health, animal cruelty and conservation?””
It is estimated there are more than 45 million kangaroos in Australia. Harvesting takes less than 3 per cent.
CSIRO experts say kangaroo culling and harvesting is important to maintain biodiversity and prevent economic damage to farmers.
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The KIAA quotes the RSPCA as saying “if achieved correctly, kangaroo culling is considered one of the most humane forms of animal slaughter. An animal killed instantly within its own environment is under less stress than domestic stock that have been herded, penned, transported etc.”
The KIAA has a male only shooting policy to prevent animal welfare concerns for joeys.
“Finally, several studies show that over 99% of kangaroos targeted by professionals are killed instantly. This level of instantaneous dispatch is higher than that recorded across the beef or lamb industry, meaning that kangaroo meat is perhaps the most animal welfare friendly meat available,” the KIAA says.
It is believed industry members were denied copies of the movie and have not been invited to the opening night, being held in Lee Rhiannon’s home turf in inner Sydney.
The documentary took four years to make and is believed to have been funded by a conservation group. It’s showing in New York brought the headline from the New York Times of “wildlife massacre”.
The movie comes as the kangaroo meat industry tries to increase exports to Asia, with a delegation currently in China.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the green movement was trying to destroy the kangaroo meat industry.
"It is absolutely disgusting to think that we have an Australian Greens’ senator trying to destroy the industry when there are nearly twice as many kangaroos in this country than there are Australians,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Senator Lee Rhiannon has not even come to Western Queensland or North Western NSW to see the plague proportions these kangaroos are in.
“They are out there propogating false information.”