A FARM shop near Middlewich has been slammed by an animal rights group for selling exotic meats like kangaroo steaks and crocodile fillets.

Justin Kerswell, campaigns manager for Viva, told the Guardian he was ‘very disappointed’ to see ‘alternative’ food at The Harvest Store in Wimboldsley.

He claims animals like kangaroos and crocodiles are treated horrifically for their meat and skins and is urging people to stop the ‘suffering’.

Mr Kerswell said: “Some 75 per cent of the world's animals are facing extinction or are in decline so we should be protecting them, not serving them for dinner.

“Exotic meat doesn't sound quite so appetising if you rename it 'dead wildlife'.

“Each year, millions of kangaroos are shot for their meat and skins – the largest massacre of land animals on the planet.

“Baby joeys are bludgeoned, shot or decapitated when their mothers are killed – the ‘worthless’ waste of the industry.

“The population of kangaroos has more than halved in the last five years.

“In the wild, crocodiles live in dark mangrove swamps but now they are subjected to the horrors of the intensive farming system.

“Crammed into tiny, filthy pens, they are barely able to move, let alone hide.

“They are killed at three years of age in a number of extremely disturbing ways, for example, having a chisel driven into the base of the skull and a rod poked in to probe and destroy the brain.”

The selection of meats, which also includes ostrich and reindeer steaks, is supplied to The Harvest Store by Alternative Meats in Shropshire.

A spokesman said Mr Kerswell’s claims raised some important issues but insisted that the animals’ welfare is protected.

She said: “All of the meats on sale are a great experience to enjoy, but whether they are home produced in Great Britain – which many of them are, for instance, water buffalo, rosé veal, kid goat, and kobe beef – or whether they are alternative game meats, they are offered with an understanding of their environmental and welfare implications.

“They are the result of production systems that are in keeping with welfare and conservation policies throughout the EU.

“They are imported under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) whose aim it is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

“This means that the the products are either farmed, as with the crocodiles – usually for the production of leather, and as such they are kept in optimum condition to prevent harming the skin – or under a hunting licence in order to keep the population under control so that the ecosystem is not harmed, as with kangaroo or indeed our very own venison here in the UK.”

But Mr Kerswell added: “The list of animals we are slaughtering for supper is getting longer and longer. What next?

“Tiger chops, dolphin steaks and koala burgers? Please remember, wildlife belongs in the wild, not on a dinner plate.”

Viva is a campaign group which promotes vegetarianism.

The Alternative Meats spokesman said: “We would not dream of attempting to convince anyone who was a confirmed vegetarian to eat meat, as we believe that freedom of choice is a vital part of our society.”

What do you think?