On 21 October 2013, the Department of Agriculture received a report from Animals Australia alleging non-compliance with Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements in Jordan. The report alleged that thousands of Australian sheep exported to Jordan under ESCAS requirements had been offered for sale and slaughter at locations not included in an approved ESCAS, with sheep being handled and slaughtered in a manner that was not in accordance with OIE animal welfare recommendations. The report included photographs and video of sheep that were taken on 7, 8, 14 and 15 October 2013.
The department’s investigations included assessment of information provided by Animals Australia, departmental records of export consignments, information provided by the exporters, independent performance audit reports, information from the National Livestock Identification System database and information collected independently by the department.
Livestock Shipping Services Pty Ltd (LSS) and Wellard Rural Exports Pty Ltd (Wellard) have received approval to export consignments of sheep to Jordan under ESCAS requirements. Those exporters and consignments were the subject of this investigation.
The investigation concluded that 2718 sheep exported by LSS under ESCAS requirements were moved outside the approved LSS Jordan supply chain. A critical non-compliance has been recorded against the LSS Jordan sheep supply chain.
During the investigation, in addition to existing ESCAS requirements, exporters of sheep to Jordan were required to strengthen control and traceability arrangements within their supply chain. The department will continue to monitor the performance of each supply chain and the effect of the additional conditions applied and will consider further regulatory action if required.
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 relevant documents to the export of live animals can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website at Acts, regulations, orders and standards.
A previous report was made to the department in June 2013 with similar allegations of non-compliance in Jordan. That investigation has been completed by the department and the investigation report, ‘Compliance Investigation Report 14 – Sheep exported to Jordan’, is available at Regulatory compliance investigations.
From July 2013 additional conditions were placed on one exporter’s ESCAS. Livestock Shipping Services Pty Ltd (LSS) has been required to have a supply chain officer (SCO) in its Jordan supply chain to undertake regular reconciliations of sheep as well as have an independent auditor assess the effectiveness of the SCO and whether they had completed reconciliations.
On 10 October 2013, the department received a letter from Animals Australia notifying the department of its intent to provide a report about non-compliance with ESCAS requirements in Jordan. On 11 October, the department directed the two exporters that had exported consignments of sheep to Jordan under ESCAS to provide information on what measures had been put in place to prevent sheep moving outside the supply chain and any additional measures that would be in place during Eid al-Adha. All information that was requested was supplied to the department.
2. The Report
On 21 October 2013, the department received a report from Animals Australia with supporting material that alleged non-compliance with ESCAS requirements in Jordan. The report estimated approximately 10,000 Australian sheep exported to Jordan under ESCAS requirements had been offered for sale and slaughter at locations not included in an approved ESCAS in Jordan, with Australian sheep being handled and slaughtered in a manner not compliant with OIE animal welfare recommendations. The report included photographs and video that Animals Australia advised were taken on 7, 8, 14 and 15 October 2013 in Jordan.
3. Conduct of the Investigation
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 determined there were two exporters that had received approval to export consignments of sheep to Jordan under ESCAS requirements; LSS and Wellard Rural Exports Pty Ltd (Wellard). Those exporters’ ESCAS supply chains and related consignments were the subject of this investigation. The exporters have received approvals to export sheep to separate supply chains, however there is one abattoir common to both supply chains.
The department’s investigation included assessment of information provided by Animals Australia, departmental records of export consignments, information provided by the exporters, independent performance audit reports (IPARs), information from the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database and information collected independently by the department.
4. Investigation Findings
As at 15 October 2013, departmental records show that 387,564 sheep had been exported to and arrived in Jordan under ESCAS requirements (Table 1). Based on advice from the exporter, sheep can be held in the supply chain for up to nine months or longer before being slaughtered.
Table 1. Summary of consignments from Australia arriving in Jordan from 1 September 2012 to 15 October 2013.
|Exporter||Discharge Date||Voyage||Load Port||Sheep|
|LSS||23 October 2012||1||Adelaide||51,060|
|LSS||23 October 2012||Fremantle||21,916|
|LSS||11 November 2012||2||Fremantle||48,385|
|LSS||17 February 2013||3||Fremantle||35,061|
|LSS||25 March 2013||4||Fremantle||69,763|
|Wellard||23 May 2013||5||Fremantle||45,722|
|LSS||20 June 2013||6||Adelaide||11,536|
|LSS||20 June 2013||Fremantle||34,667|
|LSS||2 September 2013||7||Fremantle||15,856|
|Wellard||27 September 2013||8||Fremantle||53,598|
4.1 Assessment of video and photographs
The investigation accepted that the photographs and video were taken in the locations and on the dates reported to the department.
Some of the breeds of sheep in the photographs and video provided are commonly exported from Australia, including Merino and Merino crossbreed sheep. Many of the sheep were tail docked and mulesed, which are common husbandry practices in Australia. Mulesing is practiced only in Australia. Many of the sheep also had ear tags and ear notches consistent with Australian identification systems. Based on physical characteristics, and the fact that ESCAS was implemented in Jordan on 1 September 2012, the investigation found it was likely the sheep in the photographs were exported under ESCAS.
Sheep exported from Australia are required to have a visual NLIS ear tag that bears the Property Identification Code (PIC) of the property the sheep originated from; the tags do not identify individual animals. It is possible for Australian sheep to have multiple NLIS ear tags on one ear, and on occasions have NLIS ear tags on both ears.
In the photographs and video provided, there were many ear tags identified, some of which were not NLIS ear tags. In total, 18 PICs were visible on NLIS ear tags of sheep. Thirteen of those PICs identified could have been included in a consignment of sheep exported to Jordan prior to ESCAS implementation or in a consignment exported by either of the two exporters to Jordan under ESCAS requirements; the 13 PICs could not be linked to an ESCAS consignment by a particular exporter. However, the remaining five PICs identified were included on PIC lists for consignments of sheep exported to Jordan under ESCAS requirements by LSS. These five PICs were not included on any PIC lists for consignments of sheep exported prior to ESCAS implementation in Jordan or on PIC lists for consignments exported to Jordan by Wellard.
On 5 December 2013, LSS was directed to provide the department with a report about its sheep supply chain in Jordan. This direction was given because the department’s initial trace back identified PICs in the photographs or video attributable only to sheep exported by LSS under ESCAS requirements.
There was also video that showed poor animal handling and slaughter practices that did not meet OIE animal welfare recommendations. Based on the locations and dates the video were taken, the department concluded that these events occurred outside of ESCAS facilities. As no NLIS ear tags in this footage were able to be identified, the department could not link the sheep that were the subject of the poor handling and slaughter practices to a particular consignment or exporter.
4.2 Assessment of information provided by LSS
On 19 December 2013, LSS provided its report, noting the measures the company had in place to meet ESCAS requirements and further measures it had implemented immediately following notification of the allegations to strengthen the integrity of the supply chain and address the risk of leakage of sheep from the supply chain. Included with the report was a copy of the most recent IPAR for the Jordan supply chain, reconciliation information, PIC lists for all sheep consignments exported to Jordan under ESCAS, an assessment of the photographs and video provided to the exporter, and logistical information about the supply chain as requested to assist with the department’s investigation.
The IPAR that LSS provided with its report identified that 2718 sheep were dispatched to an abattoir in the supply chain but were not slaughtered at that abattoir. The IPAR noted that there was evidence that the sheep left the supply chain between 28 July and 14 October 2013, from the abattoir that is common to both exporters’ supply chains in Jordan.
LSS reported that during the course of its own investigations, it had become apparent that a number of procedural failures and circumvention of processes had been occurring between a feedlot and an abattoir in its supply chain. LSS reported that the total number of sheep delivered to the abattoir was 79,014 and that the loss of 2,718 results in a failure rate of 3.4%. The investigation accepted the IPAR and the information provided by the exporter to be accurate.
LSS also reported that there was no risk of non-compliance with ESCAS requirements for the remaining feedlots and abattoir in the supply chain and it had taken action to ensure remaining sheep within Jordan would remain within the supply chain and be handled in accordance with ESCAS requirements. Actions taken by the exporter following notification of the complaint included:
- placing additional supply chain consultants in the market to oversee arrangements over the Eid period and confirm compliance with ESCAS requirements
- engaging additional staff, including an Australian veterinarian, to monitor approved facilities over the Eid period
- liaising with the importer to implement further measures to remediate and manage the supply chain going forward. These discussions also involved the local authority in Jordan to develop further risk management strategies to deal with high risk periods of Ramadan and Eid in 2014.
In addition to these actions, the investigation found that LSS complied with additional conditions set by the department (Section 6. ‘Regulatory Action’).
5. Investigation Conclusions
The investigation was unable to substantiate the claim that 10,000 Australian sheep were available for sale outside approved supply chains.
The investigation considers it likely that many of the sheep in the photographs and video were exported from Australia under ESCAS requirements and were available for sale and slaughter outside the approved supply chain during the Eid al Adha festival.
The investigation concluded that 2718 sheep exported by LSS under ESCAS requirements were moved outside the approved LSS Jordan supply chain.
Therefore, the investigation found there was a loss of control leading to unauthorised movement of sheep outside LSS’ approved supply chain. This represents a failure to comply with the approved ESCAS which has led to control and traceability outcomes not being met. A critical non-compliance has been recorded against the LSS Jordan 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.
The investigation also noted that there were videos showing poor animal handling and slaughter practices that did not meet OIE animal welfare recommendations. The investigation concluded these events occurred outside ESCAS facilities. The investigation could not link the sheep that were the subject of the poor handling and slaughter practices to a particular consignment or exporter.
6. Regulatory Action
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 finding of the investigations applies to all exporters of livestock to the shared supply chains. Although non-compliance was only recorded against one exporter’s supply chain, the independent auditor reported that sheep were moved from the abattoir that is common to both supply chains. Regulatory actions were applied to both exporters supplying sheep to the supply chains in Jordan.
In addition to the normal ESCAS requirements, exporters of sheep to Jordan have been required to undertake additional activities to strengthen control and traceability of their supply chains. From October 2013, exporters were required to undertake the following additional activities:
- Ensure that a Supply Chain Officer (SCO) is physically present at each facility within the supply chain to ensure that traceability and control is maintained and complete the following activities:
- conduct daily reconciliations of all animals
- ensure that all animals are marked with an exporter specific identification on entry to and exit from the feedlot.
- The exporter must supply the department with an independent performance audit report on the effectiveness of the SCO, which must assess:
- whether the SCO at each facility conducted regular reconciliation; and
- the effectiveness of actions taken by the exporter to account for sheep and prevent movement of sheep to locations outside the supply chain.
- Every three weeks, provide the department with:
- a declaration confirming whether sheep remained in the supply chain and that appropriate security is in place
- a consolidated report on daily reconciliations completed by the SCO at each facility.
In addition, for subsequent consignments of sheep exported to Jordan by LSS, two facilities in the approved supply chain that were identified as risks by the exporter were removed. The LSS supply chain is now limited to facilities located together at a single place in Jordan to minimise opportunities for movement of sheep out of the supply chain during transfer between facilities. Further to this, the required frequency of independent performance auditing of the supply chain has doubled.
The exporters have complied with the additional conditions and provided the required reports. These reports monitor whether sheep are remaining in the approved supply chain particularly when transported from the feedlots 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. From February 2014, the exporters have been required to provide the declaration and reconciliation report to the department on a monthly basis.
A third investigation is underway into similar allegations of Australian sheep being found at locations outside of an approved ESCAS in Jordan in January 2014.
The department will continue to monitor, through independent performance audit reports and reconciliation information submitted by exporters, the ongoing performance of the supply chains to determine if additional measures may be required to prevent, detect and manage unauthorised movement of sheep. Any further regulatory action will be determined in accordance with the legislative requirements and the guideline on management of non-compliance.