Thousands of Australian sheep which were accepted into Pakistan after being rejected by Bahrain veterinary authorities may be euthanised on animal health grounds.
The shipment of 22,000 sheep was unloaded at Karachi port earlier this month, having been inspected by Pakistan’s veterinary health officials and approved for import. Australian government exporters also approved the animals as meeting export animal health protocols.
However, exporter Wellard Rural Exports said that Pakistan’s state veterinary department has now ordered for the sheep to be destroyed and prevented from entering the food supply chain.
It is unclear why the order was made, but Pakistan media reports suggest that authorities found “harmful bacteria” in tests on the sheep, which were rejected by Bahrain’s quarantine officials over claims that they were infected with scabby mouth disease.
Wellard managing director Mauro Balzarini said: “We are not sure what is going on as the sheep are healthy. They are from healthy Australian flocks that feed Australian and international consumers with chops and roasts on a daily basis, with no risk to human health.
“Previous tests have demonstrated that the sheep are healthy and free of disease and sheep from the same consignment have been accepted without issue in other markets. We have senior people in Pakistan at the moment and are working with the Australian government and Pakistan authorities to suspend and overturn the order.
“The sheep were farmed for human consumption, so it is disappointing that some healthy sheep are being euthanised when they are absolutely safe to be processed as intended.”
Wellard said it was now working with the Australian government to convince Pakistan officials to stop the euthanisation. It is understood that the Pakistan government has temporarily halted the destruction of the sheep while further tests are carried out.
According to newspaper reports, a warrant has been made for the arrest of the Pakistani importer who purchased the sheep from Wellard.