Egyptian cattle freeze

The owner of a shipment of Australian cattle that has been held from slaughter in Egypt due to the presence of hormone growth promotants (HGPs) says the issue should be relatively straight-forward to solve - provided the Australian Government can work quickly to assure its Egyptian counterparts that HGPs pose no risk to human health.

Egyptian Government veterinarians last week placed a freeze on the slaughter of more than 16,000 Western Australian cattle. The veterinarians imposed the suspension order after they noticed Hormonal Growth Promotant (HGP) implants in the ears of some of the animals after they were processed.

Richard Leitch of Sokhna Imports told Beef Central that he understood that the Egyptian Government veterinarians who stopped the slaughter were not familiar with HGP implants and had imposed the freeze until they could get more information from the Australian Government. He said the suspension was causing significant costs for his company by preventing cattle from being slaughtered at the height of the peak Ramadan demand period. “We have desperately been trying to get someone from the Australian Government who knows what they’re talking about to clearly explain to Egypt that the HGP situation is not the big horror story that it has been made out to be,” Mr Leitch said. “But we’re not having a lot of luck so far. “I can understand where they’re coming from, they need to make sure they are covering all the bases in a professional and legal way, but we need it to be a bit quicker. “It is Ramadan time, the busiest time of year for us, and now we’re copping this dramatisation of the issue. “It is a big one, but it can be handled simply if someone with a background in veterinary science can go and meet with the Egyptian authorities.”

Mr Leitch said it was very concerning to have $20m worth of cattle sitting in a feedlot in a country that is now talking about sending them back. “They have stopped the slaughter of cattle on an issue that they don’t understand,” he said.