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by Dr John Auty M VSc

Reclining red mother & joey

Australia has no culture for the eating of kangaroo meat. It was eaten during the starving tomes of early white settlement but was considered a poor substitute for beef, sheep meats, pork and chicken.

Kangaroo meat has been eaten in some restaurants in the State of South Australia for about 20 years. However, the market has remained very small.

In 1993-4, because or the constitutional freedom of trade between the Australian States, it became legal to sell kangaroo meat for human consumption throughout Australia.

The kangaroo industry spent a large sum running into millions in an attempt to increase sales in Australia. This has failed badly. The large supermarket chains either did not attempt to sell kangaroo meat or quickly ceased doing so when the pilot schemes failed and they became aware of the possibilities for food poisoning from meat obtained from bush-shot carcasses.

The industry surrounded the product with a series of fabrications - for example, that the kangaroos are farmed and the animals are killed and inspected in abattoirs.

Following the abject failure to sell kangaroo meat in other than small quantities in Australia the industry has attempted to penetrate overseas markets pretending that the product is accepted in Australia.

Shooter's TruckKangaroos are shot in the outback- a region noted for heat, dust and insects. Domestic animals are present with their usual suite of diseases contaminating the environment. Male and female kangaroos are shot. The females will usually have two young at the time of shooting.

The younger one is torn from the pouch and, whilst making attempts to escape, is bashed to death either by stamping on its' head or by swinging it against the shooters' vehicle. The other, which has already left the pouch but is still reliant for milk, warmth, protection from predators and psychic support from its' mother, will escape and usually die within a few days from starvation, hypothermia, perdition or accident.

The numbers of young, which are, killed each year number in the millions. For every animal, which enters the meat trade, two more animals die agonising deaths over a period of time The kangaroo meat trade is unparalleled in the cruelty it inflicts.

The standards for actual killing fail to meet any of the meat hygiene requirements evolved over centuries in the European and other meat industries. The Code of Practice does not require protection from dust, flying and crawling insects, an impervious killing floor, adequate potable water or ablution arrangements for the slaughtermen.

Briefly, the animals are shot in dusty conditions in the bush, the vehicle is then driven up to the animal (thus adding to the dust hazard): the animal is eviscerated (saving the heart and lungs), hung in the vehicle and, at the end of the night's shooting, returned to a chiller parked at some convenient centre. When the chiller is full the carcasses are driven to the boning works usually in some coastal city. Here, the carcasses are visually inspected and passed or rejected.

The shooter carries out the ante-mortem inspection but, since it is necessary not to disturb the kangaroos, this is perfunctory. If the kangaroo is sick the meat can be fevered after death but this will not be visually apparent- as with beef etc. - because of the normal dark colour of kangaroo meat.

There is no real knowledge of kangaroos because of lack of ongoing sampling. However, they carry high burdens of internal parasites both abdominal and muscular. The recent outbreak of ocular (blindness) disease reveals how little is known, I personally saw this disease in 1945 in Outback Queensland but it came as if from nowhere to the scientific community:

In the Kimberleys in the 1920's there was a massive die-off from disease of unknown aetiology.

Kangaroo meat, like all animal protein, can carry food poisoning organisms such as E. Coli and many subgroups of Salmonella. Recently, undercooked kangaroo meat was implicated in a human outbreak of Toxoplasmosis including infection of a human foetus.

Since kangaroo meat is virtually inedible when thoroughly cooked, eaten in a virtually raw state (as recommended by its purveyors) it presents a danger to human health. This may well be a major reason why kangaroo meat is not eaten in households in Australia. If it were to be used in tartare dishes in Europe it would be more likely to cause outbreaks of food poisoning than are experienced with beef processed under the highest standards of European meat hygiene.

"The younger one is torn from the pouch and, whilst making attempts to escape, is bashed to death either by stamping on its' head or by swinging it against the shooters' vehicle"
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