The European Commission has rejected an appeal to ban imports of kangaroo meat from Australia for reasons that included food safety.

A petition was filed by three groups on the grounds of public health, animal welfare and species conservation.

Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV), World Animal Protection and Eurogroup for Animals claim that high levels of Salmonella and E. coli have been found in kangaroo meat for human consumption in Australia.

Methods used to kill kangaroos create hygiene issues and food safety risks, including potential contamination of meat with bacteria, due to animals being slaughtered in the outback and their carcasses transported long distances in the open air without refrigeration, they added.

The three petitions submitted by the groups to the European Parliament remain open.

Meat is sold in some European supermarkets or used in pet food. Australian export data shows Europe is the top destination for kangaroo meat, with Belgium accounting for 775 tons, or about a third of the total in 2019.

Australia and the European Union are in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement which should be concluded this year.

Reasons for EU position
The EU Commission said there is no evidence that requirements are not met, so it is not in a position to ban imports of kangaroo meat products. Europe does not have harmonized import requirements on animal welfare for wild animals, which covers kangaroos.

A DG Sante audit in 2019 on Australia’s export systems for red and game meat, including kangaroo, confirmed the country’s compliance with EU requirements.

EU member states’ risk-based import checks have not found any evidence that Australian kangaroo meat poses a threat to the health of consumers, said the EU Commission.

Australian exporters must perform microbial testing to show compliance with Australian and EU standards, including a ban on the use of lactic acid for decontamination.

The EU Commission said it would continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate measures to ensure that only kangaroo meat products which comply with food safety rules are permitted to enter the EU market.

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