Ashlee McEvoy ASAP/ASAS Intern
At the end of 2016, the State Government opened up a consultation on revising the Food Standard Code definition of game meat in South Australia; a proposal that has been condemned by animal groups.
Currently the animals that fall under the game meat definition include goat, rabbit, hare, kangaroo, wallaby and any bird that has not been confined or husbanded in any way. The proposal is looking at adding wild horse, donkey, buffalo, camel, deer, pig or possum that has been slaughtered in the wild state to the game meat definition, which if these changes go ahead, will begin in September 2017.
This change would make SA the second jurisdiction to allow local production and sale of horse meat. Western Australia adopted these standards in 2009 after a 20-year campaign by a Perth butcher. However the practice as not spread due to backlash of the anti-horse racing industry in fear of former racehorses suffering. Horse and donkey meat is already exported to countries such as China and Europe, however the consumption of this meat has been controversial in Australia.
Adelaide game meat specialist, Richard Gunner, believes the proposal will bring good changes, however would not make a huge difference in short term.
“I have never eaten donkey but in China it is a very popular meat and there have been Chinese people here in SA with an interest in export. Horse potentially as well,” Gunner mentions in the Advertiser.
Greens MLS Tammy Franks believes that the inclusion of horse as wild game meat may become controversial.
“This objection goes back to horses being a companion animal and the role horses have held in Australia.” Ms Franks also stated in the Sydney Morning Herald that there have been controversial opinions on health implications.
“Another issue is the health implications given the medications given to horses are not suitable for human consumption.”
Hunting permits will still be required for some game meat species, such as the wild possum.
“While the proposed game meats will be permitted to be sold for consumption in SA, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 restricts protected species from culling, and the harvesting of these animals is only permissible under permit,” a Health Department spokeswoman stated.
The spokeswoman also stressed that if these changes were to go ahead, the animals will only be able to be killed from their “wild state”.
These proposed regulations are open for public consultation until February 2017. With the government encouraging local councils and food businesses to contribute.
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