Export permit for sheep refused after ham found
By Karen Hart
November 20, 2003 - 4:51PM
Quarantine officials are refusing to issue an export licence for 70,000 sheep bound for the Middle East amid confirmation that animal liberationists contaminated their feed with pork products.
Shredded ham was today found in one of two Portland feedlots, backing claims by Animal Liberation activists who said they had contaminated the feed. The extent of the contamination was not known.
A 40-year-old man was arrested by Victoria police today over the incident and was assisting with inquiries, police said.
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) spokesman Carson Creigh said officers would not be issuing an export permit until an investigation by police and the state government was completed some time this week.
He said AQIS would be speaking to the export country before any decision was made to grant a licence.
The sheep will remain in two feedlots at Portland on Victoria's south-west coast while authorities continue their investigations, Mr Creigh said.
Animal Liberation said its members put pig meat in the animals' water and food systems at the feedlots on Cape Nelson Road.
The protest was aimed at tainting the shipment, as Muslims will not eat pork or related products.
Australian laws introduced because of mad cow disease in Britain also make it illegal to feed ruminant animals - such as sheep - anything that may contain meat, with penalties up to $24,000 and/or two years imprisonment.
Animal Liberation members hailed the protest as a victory.
"This is a fantastic result and we are pleased that our protest has worked and the sheep will not be loaded," protest organiser Ralph Hahnheuser said today.
Their protest follows the controversial rejection by Saudi Arabia of 57,000 Australian sheep aboard the MV Cormo Express because of alleged scabby mouth disease.
Victoria's chief veterinary officer Hugh Millar said the substance found today was consistent with claims made by the organisation.
"It would appear to be a shredded ham-type material," he said.
"That is now in the possession of Victoria Police and will be subject to further testing.
"Our investigations into a potential breach of the Victorian legislation with respect to the ruminant feed ban will obviously be ongoing."
Dr Millar said the ham was discovered in a small paddock which contained about 1,800 sheep.
He said there was no evidence of the material in surrounding paddocks and it was not clear how many sheep had eaten the ham.
"This would pose no danger to the sheep's health, this is an issue of breach of legislation and the sheep are fit for human consumption."
Dr Millar said it would only take a few days for a sheep to digest and dissolve protein.
The sheep were due to be loaded onto the live export carrier Al Shuwaikh today and the voyage was expected to take 14 days.
Islamic Council of Victoria president Yasser Soliman said to comply with Halal law, the Australian government should contact the destination country and ask their requirements.
He said there was a requirement that animals intended for consumption only eat wholesome - non-meat - feed for a certain period.
"Depending on where the shipment is going, there may be different views held by different Muslim schools of thought - it may range from three to 40 days," he said.
Halal meat, as prescribed by Muslim religious law, must be from an animal that is not carnivorous, that is healthy and is killed in a specific way, with the blood drained from it.
Mr Soliman said the number of days a particular country would need the sheep to have not eaten meat before slaughter would differ according to their interpretations of Islamic teachings.
I think if the inspector looked harder they could have found feed that didn't have any pork in it.
I don't care for ALF, if they would have kept there mouth shut for months I might have said good.
Now the rancher are stuck with the sheep
How many poor porkers gave their lives for thier cause
The ends often times justify the means.