Ikea has come under fire for stocking exotic salami made from reindeer meat - amid complaints relating to the cruel treatment of Rudolph and his friends.
Contrary to the traditional method of hunting and shooting reindeer, modern processes involve flying over herds of reindeer in helicopters before bundling them into trucks using snowmobiles, where they are transported on long journeys where they can endure severe mental and physical pain.
Currently almost 70 per cent of reindeer killed for their meat in Sweden are calves - and therefore the majority never live long enough too even see snow, let alone be considered to be part of the sleigh pulling team, claim the animal welfare group Viva!.
Ikea’s food hall stocks Sweedish delicacies including rye bread, meatballs and almond cade, alongside the reindeer meat, which retails at £1.75 for 130g of salami and £2.25 for 100g of reindeer slices.
Viva!, a vegetarian capaign group set up in Bristols said, “We are calling on the company to withdraw sales of the meat, due to the cruel exploitation these wild animals suffer at the hands of hunters.”
The group have had success with campaigns against supermarkets in the past, where the sale of kangaroo and other exotic animals was banned due to the inhumane (and in the UK, illegal) methods of slaughter.
The group wrote a letter to the global interiors store, highlighting evidence from a study carried out by Uppsala University in Sweden, in 2005, where it was concluded the hunting of reindeer caused “considerable physical and mental stress”.
Claes Rehbinder and Jann Hau, of the Department of Neuroscience wrote a paper stating, “The increasing stress associated with herding, corralling, and physical restraint of less and less tame animals results in lesions and elevated blood cortisol concentrations.”
Campaigns manager of Viva!, Justin Kerswell reported, ” We are very concerned about the exploitation of wild animals for meat. As well as being chased from the land and air, once they are caught, their misery doesn’t end there. In Sweden, some reindeer face a gruelling journey of up to 1,000km to the slaughterhouse where they face anything but a humane end.
“More than 70 per cent of reindeer slaughtered for meat are calves that have grazed during the summer, which means they never even get to see snow.”
He added, “We urge the company to set an ethical example of goodwill by dropping the sale of reindeer meat, instead of supporting an industry spreading pain and suffering, not happiness this Christmas.”
Ikea, which owns 17 stores in Britain has responded by saying they do not stock reindeer meat that has been produced using cruelty as they aim to upkeep high standards of animal welfare.
In a statement, they said, “Modern equipment such as snowmobiles, motorcycles and helicopters are used because of the large size of the reindeer herding area (half the size of Sweden), which makes gathering the animals more difficult. The vehicles keep the reindeer safe from predators.
“In terms of transporting reindeer to the abattoir, our supplier follows the same law applying to all other domestic animals in Sweden which sets maximum transport time and breaks, access to water and so on.”
Ikea also stated that the fact 70 per cent of reindeer meat comes from calves is a reference to figures for the whole of Sweden rather than being specific Ikea.
Reindeer meat is a popular delicacy in Scandinavia, coming in forms sch as reindeer meatballs and reindeer sausage.