10th July 2007
?We Cut Off the Living head and then Smash it With a Hammer?
Every Little Hurts as Tesco junk animal welfare in scrabble for China profits
Ordinary people in the UK, pension funds and institutional investors are unknowingly profiting from Tesco?s appalling animal welfare standards in its 39-store Hymall operation in China. For nearly two years, the supermarket giant has ignored evidence and appeals from some of the world?s biggest wildlife organisations and continue to sell live turtles for human consumption.
Because of their slow metabolism, turtles are extremely difficult to kill. The species now on sale by Tesco is the Chinese soft shell turtle which is butchered by shop assistants in front of customers by cutting of the animal?s head with a knife ? if they can get it out of the shell. The head can live for up to an hour after separation from the body, so the assistant smashes the severed head with a hammer! Tesco also sell turtles for customers to kill at home in any way they choose, usually by boiling alive or by removing the shell and cutting strips of flesh as required from the still living animal ? for ?freshness?.
Tesco have ignored reptile experts? evidence of cruelty and statements that the trade in turtles is contributing to the decimation of wild stocks. Tesco say their turtles are farmed in the Shanghai river but reptile biologist, Clifford Warwick*, claims this is impossible to monitor and believes that most animals are collected from the wild in China and, as numbers collapse, increasingly from across the Far East.
?China has no animal welfare standards of any kind?, says Justin Kerswell, Viva!?s campaigns manager, ?and Tesco are happy to take advantage of that. They claim they demand ?high standards of animal welfare? but you couldn?t get worse welfare than this. They excuse it as being part of Chinese culture. Thanks largely to our patron Heather Mills, the EU has just voted to ban all cat and dog fur from China because of the abject cruelty of skinning animals alive. The British people have made a stand against cruelty China, so has the EU and yet here is Tesco excusing it. Obviously every little helps when it comes to profit.?
After Viva!?s intervention in this campaign, Tesco have agreed to drop the sale of one of the two species of turtle it was selling, after claiming for two years that they too were farmed and there was nothing wrong with the trade. Imported in large numbers from the US, red eared terrapins were mostly wild-caught according to research from California.
For further information contact Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000, or see http://www.viva.org.uk/turtles
* Clifford Warwick was made a Fellow of the Institute of Biology for his 'distinction in biological research' and is regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on captive reptile behaviour. He is biological consultant to 15 scientific, environmental and welfare organisations and is available for interview.