Kangeroo poo suspect: Q fever rises in Australia

The [Illawarra] region’s public health director has moved to allay community concerns after several cases of confirmed Q fever.

kangaroo-pic-dm-530558559Curtis Gregory said 7 cases of the potentially debilitating disease had been confirmed within the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District so far this year [2016].

Statewide the number of cases has doubled in 5 years, from 130 in 2012, to 260 in 2015. In the 1st 6 months of 2016, NSW [New South Wales] Health has been notified of 88 cases.

“Q fever is a bacterial infection normally spread to humans by infected animals,” Mr Gregory said. “It’s mainly seen around agricultural and livestock industries and occupations but can be found in wildlife populations.” Mr Gregory said while case numbers were relatively low in the region, there had been some community concern over perceived hotspots. “We have seen numbers group around certain areas in the Shoalhaven like Sanctuary Point, although there have been some cases in the southern Illawarra,” he said. “We have done environmental sampling at different locations – of kangaroo and bandicoot droppings — but no positive results have been found.” Humans usually get infected by inhaling bacteria-carrying dust contaminated by animal urine, feces or birth products. “Those at higher risk of infection include abattoir and meat workers; farmers and shearers; stockyard workers and animal transporters; veterinarians and agriculture college staff and students,” Mr Gregory said. “Horticulturists or gardeners may also be concerned if there’s a lot of wildlife in the area, as activities like lawn mowing may put them at risk.”

Australian kangaroo meat fails basic hygiene tests

Can’t blame imports on this one: Kangaroo harvesters in Australia have been discovered not adhering to the most basic of hygiene standards, documents obtained under freedom of information show.

kangerooInvestigations by the New South Wales (NSW)Food Authority have found numerous breaches of hygiene and safety rules that prevent cross-contamination of kangaroo meat, including carcasses hung from rusty hooks, lack of water and cleaning facilities, and live animals being allowed alongside dead ones.

Critics say the huge industry is still a wild west, with vast differences in the practices of different kangaroo harvesters, who hunt animals in the wild without the regulations of commercial farming operations.

But the head of the industry association has strongly rejected this claim, saying the overall rate of breaches is low and kangaroo undergoes more extensive testing for pathogens before it is sold than other meats.

Greens MP John Kaye, who obtained the information under freedom of information laws, said the potential for cross contamination in the meat meant no one could eat it without putting themselves at risk of infection.

“Poor hygiene practices have potentially devastating consequences for any food but game meat is particularly vulnerable,” he said. “No one should eat meat that was hung on rusty carcass hook, processed over a tray with old dried blood or exposed to other live animals with the risk of faecal and other contamination.”

“This so-called healthy alternative to other red meats could be riddled with pathogens.”

Five years ago Fairfax Media revealed independent testing had found dangerously high levels of salmonella and E.coli in kangaroo meat bought from supermarkets.

Daniel Ramp, a senior lecturer and director of the Centre for Compassionate Conservation at the University of Technology Sydney, said previously contamination levels had been found that were “way above safety standards”.

Couple kicked out of Wisconsin McDonald’s for bringing in kangaroo

On Friday, Diana and Larry Moyer brought one of their five pet kangaroos to a McDonald’s in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, prompting a customer to call the police, reports WISN.

kangaroo-800“He’s just a little guy, but you can touch him and pet him,” Larry says of Jimmy the kangaroo.

The couple often brings the smaller marsupial with them on errands to keep Diana, who is battling cancer, company. Jimmy isn’t a licensed service animal, but the kangaroo is a therapy pet.

The Moyers – who’ve owned kangaroos for five years – say the animals often turn heads in public, but rarely do they cause problems, so the couple was shocked when a customer at McDonald’s felt the need to call the police and complain.

Since kangaroos are not protected by disability laws, the Moyers and Jimmy were asked to leave by the restaurant. The group left without incident at the same time authorities arrived at the scene.

Russia bans Australian kangaroo meat due to E. coli (or non-tariff trade barrier)

The kangaroo meat trade to Russia was initially suspended back in 2008, and then reopened in November 2012.

skippyThe most recent ban was put in place in May this year, but Fiona Corke from the Australian Society for Kangaroos says this information was never made public.

“No politician has come forward and said anything, the kangaroo industry hasn’t come forward and said anything, and we think the public has a right to know.

“Kangaroo meat is marketed to them as being a healthy superfood, yet we have a country that doesn’t want to buy it any more because they’ve found excessive amounts of bacterial contamination.”

The managing director of Macro Meats, which was the sole supplier of kangaroo meat to Russia, says the company is working to reopen the kangaroo meat trade.

Ray Borda says Russia was using the wrong testing standards for kangaroo meat.

Kangaroo export markets generate demand for the meat, creating incentive for harvesters, who then help landholders control the vast kangaroo population in outback Australia.

Western Queensland kangaroo harvester Graham Mackney says harvesters were not formally notified of the ban.

“We all found out by word of mouth.”

He says another ban due to high levels of E.coli looks bad for the industry.

“If it was E.coli again we really have to start looking at where and why this problem keeps happening and put prevention measures in place.”

After horse meat scandal, food producers test for kangaroo and dog

The horse meat crisis has led the world’s largest food manufacturer Nestle to test for the presence of meat such as kangaroo and dog, according to the head of food safety at the firm’s research centre Dr horse.meat.09John O’Brien.

As reported in the Irish Times, Dr O’Brien, a former head of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, people working in food safety had now become molecular detectives. “Not only are we concerned with horse, we are also keeping an eye on kangaroo, dogs, goats and a few other species and asking questions. Could any of these find their way into the food chain? So we have probes for all of those.”

Skating, seafood and the Queen’s swan found barbecued on riverbank

My mother and 20-year-old daughter Braunwynn began their trek back to Canada this morning. Braunwynn says she doesn’t know how she’ll ever eat seafood again in Ontario after the Brisbane indulgence.

We went skating, because Braunwynn had to teach Sorenne that princesses can wear hockey skates (it was B’s idea) and B kicked all the boys in the skating races and won. braun.sorenne.skate.sept.13The Aussies had never seen quite a thing.

We also ate kangaroo burgers. I temped them to 165F.

One country’s cultural norm is another’s ick factor.

But it’s sorta creepy that British police are investigating the killing and apparent barbecuing of one of Queen Elizabeth’s swans.

The bird was butchered, burnt and stripped of its flesh before the carcass was dumped on a riverbank near Windsor Castle, west of London, police and an animal charity said on Wednesday.

“It was done neatly, presumably to get at the meat.” 

All wild mute swans in Britain are considered the property of the crown and it is an offence to kill one.

Thermometers, needle tenderization, and birthday steak

The first night I went to Amy’s house for dinner in 2005 in Manhattan (Kansas), we both thought the take-out food sounded like crap.

amy.thermometerShe said f**k it, let’s get some steaks and grill ‘em.

I was hooked.

Happy birthday to my best friend.

Dinner tonight, in Amy’s honor, with steak at about 140 F, that I’m told by the butcher is not needle tenderized, but who would know.

Some kangaroo kabobs thrown in with a yoghurt dip.


Kangeroos in South Africa? Bitlong meat strips contain meat from anything

I don’t know what bitlong is, but it’s apparently popular in South Africa and apparently it’s made from whatever meat is available.

Using DNA analysis on biltong, researchers found, according to the N.Y Times,  horse meat labeled as springbok, the native gazelle; giraffe meat biltong.mar.13labeled as the African antelope, kudu; and in an inexplicable case, kangaroo labeled as ostrich.

“For me the saddest finding was to find the Cape mountain zebra, an endangered species, being sold as biltong,” said Maria Eugenia D’Amato, a geneticist at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and one of the authors of the study, in the journal Investigative Genetics.

From a total of 146 samples of biltong, sausage and minced meat, more than a hundred pieces of meat were mislabeled.

Beef was correctly labeled in all of the samples.

“Our biggest surprise was to find kangaroo in the samples,” Dr. D’Amato said. “This isn’t found anywhere on the continent, and it must have been imported.”

Skippy burgers: 30 years later, details emerge of shoddy Australian meat exports

A series of articles in today’s Australian newspapers – they still exist, because it’s 1978 here – contends that Australians were unwittingly fed donkey meat, goat and maggot-ridden offcuts by some of the country’s leading meat producers, according to newly revealed Royal Commission findings.

Papers presented to Justice Albert Edward Woodward in the 1980s and made public for the first time describe Hammond Wholesale and Retail Meats trimming off the dye legally required on pet food and selling it for human consumption as well as wide-spread substitution of halal meat.

“The flesh of donkeys, goats, kangaroos, buffaloes and horses, killed in the field and without regard to any consideration of hygiene…was used indiscriminately to produce food for human consumption,” the report said.

Some companies passed off kangaroo, horse and other pet-food only grade cuts as human-grade mince, while others sent low-quality scraps off to be used for dim sim fillings.

Meat rejected for export to the United States from Souery Pty Ltd, was described by a veterinary officer as “rubbish and floor sweeping” and “eligible for pet food only”, but was sold to unsuspecting buyers in Adelaide.

The cleanliness standards at one Katherine abattoir in the Northern Territory were also described as filthy with “maggots … very much in evidence.”

Justice Woodward said there was no doubt Melbourne meat supply company Steiger’s Meat Supply “purchased considerable quantities of pet food which was injected into the human food chain.”

He said the owners of the business then attempted to cover up the operations and committed perjury so the scale of the operation could not be accurately assessed, but he suggested the substituted meat was freely available in Victoria and much of the east coast of Australia.

The details of the scandal have only come to light as the result of the country’s longest-running freedom of information battle by Canberra Times Editor-at-large Jack Waterford. Waterford first requested the documents in December 1982 on the day the Freedom of Information Act came into existence. After the decades-long battle he was finally given access to “appendix h” of the 1980 Royal Commission into meat substitution last week.

In total Justice Albert Edward Woodward named 35 cases requiring further investigation and or criminal proceedings.

Some, but not all, of the companies were sanctioned and faced prosecution under the Trade Practices Act as the $100 penalty imposed under the Export Act did not offer any deterrent.

The documents also name another man who operated under an alias who purchased at least 85 tonnes of pet meat in one year and repackaged it as boneless beef.

“[The man] was buying kangaroo meat from Queensland and horse meat in Victoria, ostensibly for distributing to retail pet shops but was selling at least some of the pet meat to dim sim manufacturers.”

An owner of Hammond Wholesale & Retail Meats said he kept greyhounds and bought $160,000 of pet meat in 10 months, his purchases would have feed 3000 dogs and he admitted that about half of the meat he sold for human consumption was pet meat.

Justice Woodward also found that Jakes Meats Pty Ltd substituted buffalo-meat for export quality boneless beef or bull.

The documents also refer to previously unreported large scale substitution of halal meat.

The findings of the Royal Commission led to an overhaul of the Australian meat industry. This weeks release of “appendix h” comes more than 30 years after the main document was made available to the public. While many of the companies named faced sanctions and had export certification cancelled effectively closing down operations, some of the persons named in the appendix are still involved in the meat industry.

It started with an eagled-eyed food inspector in San Diego, California on July 27,1981 and almost destroyed the $1 billion a year beef export trade of Australia.

A vigilant food inspector became suspicious of three frozen blocks of imported Australian beef that looked “darker and stringier” than bona fide boneless beef should be.

Tests showed that this bogus “beef” from Australia was horse meat.

In the next few days more horse meat, and then some kangaroo meat, masquerading as Australian beef were found elsewhere in the United States.

By 15 August, the press in Australia and the United States had begun to probe and report on the “Meat Substitution Scandal” and the joke of ”skippy burgers” was born.

Jack Waterford himself writes he finally received the report he requested on December 2, 1982, 29 years, 11 months and about two weeks ago.

I’ve been harsh. It’s 1982.

Australian animal rights group uses food safety to combat kangaroo consumption

There was this one time, Chapman and I went to Australia and New Zealand, and at a dinner in Melbourne, he thought it would be adventurous to order kangaroo.

Tasted like deer.

Now that I live in Brisbane, kangaroo meat is fairly easy to find; I just have no interest in it.

And like any other food, kangaroo is prone to contamination.

ABC reports that three years after Russia banned kangaroo meat after finding high levels of bacterial contamination, animal rights groups say there are still problems with hygiene in supermarket meat.

Some of the tests show high levels of E. coli.

The kangaroo industry says the tests are not scientific and it claims animal rights groups are extremists.

Animal rights groups are using the hygiene issue as a weapon to try and close down the industry, worth $75 million a year.

As part of their campaign, the animal rights groups purchased kangaroo meat for human consumption from Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarkets in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and had the samples tested in an independent laboratory.

Eight of the 26 kangaroo samples tested positive for the bacteria salmonella and 11 samples showed relatively high levels of E. coli bacteria.

The Kangaroo Industry Association says the laboratory results are not scientific because there is no way of knowing how the meat was transported from the supermarkets to the laboratory or how long it took to get there, and no independent scrutiny of the process.

Associate Professor Vitali Sintchenko says that illness from eating kangaroo meat is extremely rare, adding, “We haven’t seen any cases of food poisoning from – that we know of in New South Wales in the last five or six years coming from kangaroo meat.”

The kangaroo industry also claims there has never been a recorded case of food poisoning from kangaroo meat in Australia. Now the industry is lobbying the Russians to reopen the meat trade. But last month, Animal Liberation took their lab results to Russia to try to persuade authorities there to continue the ban.