Tesco End Turtle Trade In China After Campaigners Ask Them To Stop

Tesco has abandoned the sale of turtles for the dinner table at its stores in China where they were packed alive into plastic bags or butchered in front of customers.
The company has bowed to pressure from animal welfare campaigners who accused the retailer of putting profit before animal welfare.

Soft-shelled turtles – a popular Chinese delicacy priced at £5 - were killed in front of customers by having their heads chopped off.
The retailer has been selling the live turtles since 2007, however the company said yesterday that the trade has stopped because ‘this is not in line with our approach on animal welfare’.
Two UK-based groups Viva and One World Wildlife have been campaigning for Tesco to stop the trade.
Viva said: ‘Tesco previously ignored reptile experts’ evidence of cruelty and statements that the trade in turtles contributed to the decimation of wild stocks.
‘This cruel trade in live animals would have never been acceptable in Britain, yet presumably these profits came back to fill Tesco’s coffers in this country.
‘So we welcome the chain finally making the ethical move to stop selling live turtles in their stores in China. It shows that sustained consumer pressure really does work.’

Spokesman for One World Wildlife, Dominic Neate, said: ‘We may think of turtles as pets like kittens and puppies, but Tesco staff butchered them in front of shoppers’ eyes, or wrapped them live in plastic, unable to breathe, advising that it was best to eat them within the hour.

In 2013, the Daily Mail saw how the turtles were being sold at Tesco stores in Beijing that had been visited by David Cameron during a previous UK trade mission.

In one, members of staff in white uniforms were standing around the meat and fish counters where tanks held live turtles, fish, bull frogs and terrapins.

One caught a turtle in a pair of 10-inch metal tongs and wrapped it in three thin plastic bags. The turtle desperately fought to get out of the bag until it was returned to the customer service desk.

At the Fengtai East branch, a member of staff hacked at a soft shell turtle for seven minutes, trying to chop its head off.

The middle-aged staff member turned with an impatient expression, and snapped: ‘Look, I’ll let you know when it’s done. The head won’t come out.’

Five minutes later the grisly job was done and the butcher, with dark blood speckles on his apron, asked if we also wanted the head, too.

Animal activists say a turtle remains aware and able to move its eyes for up to an hour after decapitation unless their skulls are crushed with a hammer.

An assistant explained: ‘First you chop the head off and then you lift the turtle up so as to let the blood drain.

‘When you get home, put it in boiled water to sterilize it. After a few minutes later, take a knife and cut the shell off the turtle, remove the innards and rinse it.

‘Then chop into pieces and it’s done.’

The fresh water turtles are shipped from farms in Dalian, a Northeast China coastal city.