On 15 October 2013, the Department of Agriculture received a report from Animals Australia alleging non-compliance with Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements in Kuwait. The report alleged that Australian sheep exported under ESCAS requirements had been offered for sale and slaughter at a location not included in the approved ESCAS. The report included photographs and video of sheep that were taken on 6 October 2013 at a livestock market in Kuwait.
This is the third report made to the department about sheep outside an approved supply chain in Kuwait. The finalised investigation reports for the other two reports can be found at Regulatory compliance investigations.
Three licensed Australian exporters, Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd (Emanuel), EMS Rural Exports Pty Ltd (EMS) and International Livestock Export Pty Ltd (ILE) had received approval to export consignments of sheep to Kuwait under ESCAS requirements. Those exporters and the relevant supply chains were the subject of this investigation.
The investigation found that two sheep shown in the photographs and video were exported from Australia to Kuwait under ESCAS requirements by Emanuel. It is highly likely many of the other sheep shown in the photographs were also exported from Australia to Kuwait under ESCAS requirements however, the investigation was unable to determine by which exporter.
As a result of the investigation a major non-compliance was recorded in relation to the affected supply chain. In addition, as well as existing ESCAS requirements, exporters of sheep to Kuwait are required to undertake further activities designed to strengthen control and traceability within the approved supply chains.
The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requires exporters to send animals to facilities that meet World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare recommendations. Animals must remain in those facilities and the exporter must be able to account for all animals. Legislation and other relevant documents to the export of live animals can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website at Acts, regulations, orders and standards
This is the third report made to the department about sheep outside the supply chain in Kuwait. The other two reports were made to the department in August 2012 and January 2013. The same exporters are involved in all three investigations. The finalised investigation reports are available at Regulatory compliance investigations.
Additional conditions have been placed on exporters to Kuwait since September 2012. Exporters are required to have a supply chain officer (SCO) in each supply chain to undertake regular reconciliations of animals as well as an independent auditor to assess the effectiveness of the SCO and whether they had completed reconciliations.
In November 2012, the department placed further conditions on exporters to Kuwait including the requirement to provide a monthly report and declaration on the reconciliation activities undertaken by the SCO.
In an effort to control the unauthorised movement of sheep, in January 2013, exporters to Kuwait arranged for additional security at the abattoirs in each supply chain.
2. The report
On 15 October 2013, the department received a report from Animals Australia alleging non-compliance with ESCAS requirements in Kuwait. The report alleged that 100 Australian sheep exported under ESCAS requirements had been offered for sale and slaughter at a location not included in the approved supply chain. The report included photographs and video of sheep that were taken on 6 October 2013 at a livestock market in Kuwait. This is during the Eid al-Adha festival, which is a high risk time for sheep outside the supply chain.
The focus of the investigation was to determine if the photographs and video were taken in the locations and on the dates alleged and to establish if non-compliance with ESCAS requirements occurred.
The department wrote to the exporters involved and requested information on their control arrangements within Kuwait and any additional measures they had put in place to prevent sheep moving outside the approved supply chain during Eid al-Adha. All information that was requested was supplied to the department.
3. Investigation Findings
The department reviewed records of all slaughter sheep exported to Kuwait since ESCAS requirements took effect on 1 March 2012. The records showed that 32 consignments of sheep had arrived in Kuwait on 19 voyages between 1 March 2012 and 15 October 2013. The exporters were Emanuel Exports Pty Ltd (Emanuel), EMS Rural Exports Pty Ltd (EMS) and International Livestock Export Pty Ltd (ILE). Emanuel and EMS have received approvals to export sheep to a common supply chain in Kuwait. On arrival, the sheep from the two exporters are mixed in the supply chain facilities. ILE exports sheep to a separate supply chain however the two supply chains share some common abattoirs.
During 2013, 830,000 sheep were exported from Australia to Kuwait under ESCAS arrangements. At the time, the largest supply chain in Kuwait had between 40,000 to 100,000 sheep in the feedlot. The exporters advised that sheep are kept on feed for a period of 60 to 90 days before being sent for slaughter.
3.1 Assessment of video and photographs
The report alleged that approximately 100 Australian sheep were seen outside the approved supply chain in the Al Rai Market. The photographs and video showed sheep of various breeds including Merino, Awassi and crossbreed sheep at a market in Kuwait. The investigation concluded that the photos and video were taken on the dates alleged. The Al Rai Market is not part of an approved ESCAS in Kuwait.
Sheep exported from Australia are required to have a visual National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) ear tag that bears the Property Identification Code (PIC) of the property the sheep originated from; the tags do not identify individual animals. Two of the sheep in the photographs and video have ear tags and ear notches consistent with Australian identification systems and had clearly readable PICs.
The investigation reviewed property of origin lists, supplied by the exporters, for each consignment to determine if either of the PICs identified were included on the lists. The two PICs were traced to the tag list for a consignment exported under ESCAS arrangements by Emanuel.
It was not clear which exporter exported the remaining sheep in the photographs. It was also not clear which supply chain facility (or facilities) was associated with the sheep that left the supply chain(s).
3.2 Assessment of the exporter's actions
In October 2013, the exporters supplied information regarding their control arrangements in Kuwait and what plans they had put in place for Eid al-Adha including:
- a program of unscheduled visits to abattoirs in the supply chains and livestock markets in surrounding areas, including the Al Rai Market, paying particular attention to private sale pens
- providing and regularly changing the security company and staff at abattoirs within the supply chains
- a ‘private sale pen’ at one abattoir to sell direct to the public at comparable prices to non-ESCAS facilities
- through the supply chain officer; educating abattoirs on the ‘no removal’ policy, monitoring the private sale sheep and local markets to ensure sheep are slaughtered within the supply chain
- an identification system to mark sheep moving from one of the supply chain’s feedlots to abattoirs; to identify sheep and the possible source in the event that sheep had left the supply chain.
The investigation found that the exporters had complied with the additional conditions set by the department. Furthermore, the exporters had implemented other measures, as set out above, in an effort to prevent and to identify sheep moving outside the approved supply chains.
3.3 Was there non-compliance with any other regulatory requirements?
The photographs and video provided were reviewed to determine if there was non-compliance with any other aspect of ESCAS requirements. The report alleged that there were vendor locations at the markets that had little or no food or water visible. The investigation found that the photographs and video did not provide evidence to confirm these allegations.
The report alleged that some vendors offered on-site slaughter options. The department accepts that it is likely Australian sheep were being offered for on-site slaughter, as that is the practice, however there was no evidence presented with the report to confirm this or to confirm whether any Australian sheep had recently been slaughtered on-site at the markets.
4. Investigation Conclusions
Based on the visible ear tags and property of origin records, the investigation determined that two sheep in the photographs were exported under ESCAS requirements by Emanuel.
The investigation concluded that many of the other sheep in the photographs were also exported from Australia to Kuwait under ESCAS requirements. This conclusion was based on the department’s assessment of the sheep shown in the photographs including the breed of sheep and the presence of ear tags and ear notches.
Therefore, as with the previous two Kuwait investigations, there was a loss of control leading to unauthorised movement of sheep outside the approved supply chains. This was in spite of the additional conditions placed on the market by the department and implemented by the exporter. The investigation found that non-compliance with ESCAS requirements occurred and that this non-compliance was likely to result in animal welfare outcomes not consistent with OIE animal welfare recommendations. A major non-compliance was recorded in relation to the Emanuel and EMS Kuwait supply chain.
This decision was made in line with the Guideline – Management of Non-Compliance which can be found at Guideline - Management of Non-Compliance
5. Regulatory actions
In accordance with the Final Report of the Industry Government Working Group for Live Sheep and Goat Exports, any regulatory actions taken as a result of the findings of the investigation applies to all exporters of livestock to the supply chain. In addition to normal ESCAS requirements, exporters of sheep to Kuwait have been required to undertake additional activities to strengthen control and traceability of their supply chains since the first two Kuwait non-compliance reports were received. From October 2013, exporters were also required to undertake the following conditions:
- Ensure that all animals in the supply chain are marked with an exporter specific identification at the following supply chain points to allow identification of animals throughout the remainder of the supply chain:
- upon entry into the feedlots
- before departure from the feedlots to the abattoirs.
- Each month, the exporter must supply the department with a declaration from a person in management or control stating:
- whether or not sheep exported from Australia remained in the supply chain up until the point of slaughter
- appropriate 24 hour security is in place at each facility where sheep are held in the supply chain, to ensure ESCAS approved movement of animals occurs within the supply chain
- The exporter must also supply the department with a monthly consolidated report on daily reconciliations completed by the SCO at each facility.
During the course of the investigation, the exporters provided monthly reports along with independent audit reports for both supply chains. These reports monitor whether sheep are remaining in approved facilities, particularly when transported from the feedlot to the abattoir. The numbers arriving at the abattoir are reconciled with the number slaughtered and the number that left the feedlot. The reports have not shown loss of animals.