The suspension is part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of Australian cattle being mistreated in Vietnam after video footage was released by Animals Australia last month.

A statement published by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on Friday said it was conducting exporter control and traceability audits for all eight exporters with supply chains in Vietnam, due to be finalised by the end of this month.

As a result of these audits, “two exporters have been directed to cease supply to the Vietnam market until effective measures have been put in place to address animal control, traceability and verification processes”.

However, the statement did not rule out if there could be more suspensions.

“Any further regulatory action to address issues identified through these audits will be determined once audit findings for each exporter are completed,” the statement said.

The department has now suspended 21 facilities in Vietnam, including three feedlots and 18 abattoirs, as a result of the ongoing investigation,

Additional conditions have also been placed on four exporters, including: increased reporting requirements; and, additional monitoring and supervision by in-market staff to ensure all animals in their supply chain are handled in accordance with the standards required by the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System.

The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council said in a statement, “the decision by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to direct two Australian livestock exporters to cease supply to Vietnam ... is a clear demonstration of the Department’s regulatory oversight and powers of control over the exporters activities”.

“The suspension of an exporters’ ESCAS supply chain is a serious and disruptive regulatory action and can have a significant commercial impact on business,” the statement said.

“As ALEC has stated on a number of previous occasions, exporters take their regulatory requirements very seriously and if individual exporters, feedlot or abattoir systems have faltered in detecting in-market breaches, then they must be sanctioned in a manner that effectively deals with any problems and provides a pathway for improvement”.

“ALEC trusts that the Department will move quickly to reinstate market access as soon as the affected exporters can demonstrate effective control, traceability and verification processes.”

By Nicola Bell - The Weekly Times - July 18, 2016