Growing push for national pet food laws

Unlike many other countries, Australia does not have regulated standards for pet food.
Unlike many other countries, Australia does not have regulated standards for pet food.

Calls have intensified for Australia's pet food industry to be regulated.

There are claims locally produced pet food has become a dumping ground for unwanted or suspect meats.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has joined the campaign sparked by the death of more than 20 Victorian dogs who died after being fed toxic horse meat.

Australia's vets have already teamed up with the RSPCA to push for action to regulate the industry.

More than 60 more dogs suffered liver failure after pet mince, labelled as containing beef and kangaroo meat, also contained feral horse meat from the Northern Territory.

An investigation found the horse meat contained the toxin indospicine after the horses grazed on the hardy outback shrub Indigo.

In Victoria, its meat regulator PrimeSafe is working with industry to develop a "guidance" to avoid future meat contamination issues.

The Australian Veterinary Association and RSPCA Australia said it was time for national regulations to govern the industry.


CHOICE has launched an online letter-writing campaign to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to take action.

"Pets are getting sick and dying because of poor quality pet food in Australia. We need your help to fix a broken system," the letter reads.

"Currently, there are no laws governing pet food safety in Australia, only voluntary standards.

"And, most importantly, there is no regulator or government body with responsibility for overseeing rules about pet food and stepping in when industry fails to meet basic standards.

"A Senate inquiry made major recommendations in 2018 to fix pet food regulation so we can trust the food we buy for our cats and dogs. Years later, Australians are still waiting to see these recommendations implemented."

But Mr Littleproud has already said regulation of domestic pet food remained a decision for states and territories even though he shared their concern about the safety of the industry.

"That's why I set up the pet food review working group," Mr Littleproud said.

That working group was established in late 2018 after more than 100 dogs fed the same brand of dry dog food had developed an untreatable disease called megaoesphagus.

Victoria Police raised the alarm after nine police dogs fell sick from the disease.

"The group has taken into consideration the recommendations of a Senate inquiry into the safety of pet food," Mr Littleproud said.

He said he had updated the AVA, the RSPCA and Pet Food Industry Association Australia on the work.

This working group is finalising its advice to state, territory and federal agriculture ministers which is expected later this year.

CHOICE and the other groups believe Mr Littleproud is in the position to take action and public pressure like a letter-writing campaign would help increase awareness of the issue at least.

This story Growing push for national pet food laws first appeared on Farm Online.