Israel's Minister of Agriculture has stopped the import of cattle and sheep from Romania after finding violations and deficiencies related to veterinary requirements. The animals on board were sent for immediate slaughter as a result.
The case follows a similar one in March which led to a temporary ban on Romanian imports.
The Agricultural Ministry continues to promote animal welfare and is working to expand the import of chilled meat to Israel to reduce the demand for live animal imports. Over the past year, import quotas for duty-free beef have been increased, and they are expected to continue to be increased over the next few years. Currently, there are about 110 factories in Europe, South America and the U.S. that are authorized to export chilled beef and lamb to Israel.
The Ministry is also working to extend the shelf life of imported chilled meat in order to enable the importation of chilled meat from South American countries.
Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel said: "Any violation of the regulations of the Ministry of Agriculture regarding the importation of cattle into Israel is handled with great severity. The Ministry of Agriculture's strict requirements/regulations on live import shipments is in place to protect public health and is intended to reduce animal distress where possible."
Animal welfare organization Israel Against Live Shipments says it is concerned that the Romanian shipment went straight to slaughter without quarantine procedures. Spokesperson, Anat Refuah, said: "the live imports of animals as a whole, is a catastrophe waiting to happen with the Israeli public health at stake, the awful state of the animals arriving and the inability of our agriculture office to see the larger picture.
“Live imports are environmentally detrimental to us, a threat to the Israeli public's health and reflect a moral deficiency on the part of our government, as live import is in itself a cruelty to animals. We call for a complete ban on all live imports, from all countries, once and for all"
Local media reports indicate that the government may be considering limiting the sea voyages of imported animals to six days per week. This would prevent live exports from countries such as Australia.