Kangaroos

Understanding the kangaroo industry

In 2006–07, the most valuable export markets for Queensland kangaroo meat were:
  • Russia ($23 million)
  • France ($3.1 million)
  • South Africa ($1.9 million).
Kangaroo management in Australia has evolved to a point where it is an internationally recognised example of the sustainable use of wildlife (Grigg and Pople 2001).

There are strict regulations covering the humane taking of animals,the handling and processing of meat, a system of quotas based on regular broad-scale aerial surveys and season declarations and closures based on harvest monitoring, all of which are supported by law enforcement. The management of kangaroos is supported by an extensive scientific literature.
    
In August 2009, Russia placed a blanket ban on importing kangaroo meat from Australia, citing food safety issues. AgForce continues to lead this issue in Queensland, as it has a widespread impact on rural and regional communities.

How does the kangaroo industry work?

The kangaroo industry has a complex structure:


Meat quality and disease issues in kangaroos

In August 2009, Russia placed a blanket ban on importing kangaroo meats, citing food safety issues. However the EU, which is globally recognised as the leader in food safety standards, are happy with the bacterial levels in Australian kangaroo product.

Field dressing may pose greater hygiene problems than abattoir processing. However, since free-ranging kangaroo populations have fewer disease problems than domestic stock (Andrew 1988), there is less potential for disease transmission.

Kangaroos are hosts to a number of parasitic worms, but only one, Dirofilaria (now Pelicitus) roemeri, can occur commonly. It poses no zoonotic risk and is removed at processing. The meat inspection process for kangaroos is similar to that for domestic stock.

Kangaroo meat is processed for human consumption under rigorous quality assurance protocols, which are required for licensing of operators and their equipment. Dr Paul Hopwood (Veterinary Science, University of Sydney) states that there are no reasons to consider the kangaroo industry any differently to that of domestic stock. Andrew (1988) found that kangaroo carcasses presented for meat inspection compared favourably with post-mortem findings in domestic stock processed at abattoirs. He also argued that there were no public health reasons why kangaroo meat could not be considered on a par with meat from domestic stock.
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