French supermarket giant Carrefour on Tuesday urged the Indonesian government to respond to Australian concerns about the abuse of cattle and other livestock in local abattoirs.
Australia earlier on Tuesday suspended live animal exports to 11 slaughterhouses in Indonesia after the state broadcaster aired images of cattle dying prolonged deaths and being cruelly mistreated.
Carrefour is the biggest supermarket chain in Indonesia and spokesman Satria Hamid said the retailer was “very concerned” about the suspension of the live beef trade from Australia.
“Most of our imported meat came from Australia. Although we also carry huge amounts of local meat, we hope that the government will settle this problem soon,” he said.
Indonesian agriculture officials seemed at a loss to respond to the furore and would not answer AFP’s requests for comment.
“There is no update at the moment about the issue,” agriculture ministry animal welfare chief Sri Mukartini said, “I have yet to coordinate again with the director general.”
“We’ll give an update as soon as there is progress.”
Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said footage provided to him by animal welfare group Animals Australia showed scenes from Indonesian abattoirs which were “completely unacceptable”.
“No one accepts the mistreatment of animals,” Ludwig told a news conference, describing the video as “shocking in the extreme.”
The minister halted the trade of live animals to the facilities identified by the footage, and has ordered an independent inquiry into the treatment of animals along the entire supply chain to Indonesia.
The Australian Broadcast Corporation said it had evidence of cruelty, including kicking, hitting, gouging of eyes and breaking of some animals’ tails as Indonesian workers attempted to force cattle into slaughter boxes.
Australia shipped Aus$684.5 million ($734 million) worth of live cattle in 2010, with Indonesia accounting for just under 60 percent of the trade or some 521,000 animals.
Mukartini told AFP on Monday, before Australian announced the suspension, that animal welfare was linked to education and development.
She also said that a 2009 law meant to guarantee humane treatment of live cattle imports had not been implemented.
“Animal welfare is a relatively new issue in Indonesia. We’re still developing regulations,” she said.
“This is different to what happens in developed countries like Australia, which see it as an important issue because their people have better awareness of animal welfare.”
Indonesian officials were unable to explain whether they were investigating the abattoirs mentioned in the ABC report.