PRESS RELEASE: Is the safety of Australian pet food a concern?

UPDATED: Wednesday 1st of September 2021

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE launched an open letter campaign for safer pet food this week stating “pets are getting sick and dying because of poor quality pet food in Australia”.

The campaign calls upon Minister of Agriculture David Littleproud to introduce laws to create a mandatory industry standard for pet food. Australia currently has a voluntary pet food standard which a consumer must pay for to access, and without an official recall system it is not possible to provide consumers any assurance their pet food is safe.

The CHOICE campaign comes after a cluster of 68 Australian dogs suffering liver disease were traced back to toxic horse meat sold by Victorian pet meat supplier Maffra District Knackery. As many as 22 affected dogs died from the toxicity.

The outbreak, investigated by Agriculture Victoria and Primesafe, was attributed to indospicine toxicity from a consignment of horses from a station in NT. Indospicine is an amino acid found in native Indigofera plants which the horses will have grazed, and can be deadly to dogs.

The horse meat was not intended for use as pet meat.

In 2018 a Senate inquiry into the safety of Australian pet food was instigated after numerous Australian dogs were left with debilitating condition megaoesophagus linked to a popular brand of pet food Advance Dermocare. The condition prevents the muscles from the oesophagus moving food or water to the stomach. The outbreak led to several dog deaths.

The Senate was scathing in its report and highlighted several shortcomings with the self-regulated pet industry. A working group was put in place to establish adequate pet food regulations, but three years later Australian consumers are still waiting.

Australian website Pet Food Reviews states “If a retailer or pet food manufacturer is able to ignore hundreds of product-related complaints, inclusive of seizures, paralysis, severe sickness, blindness, or painful death, with no regulatory body in place to investigate or act, then our self-regulated pet food industry is failing.”

Leading pet food manufacturer Mars Petcare supported the Senate inquiry and introduction of better standards, stipulating “Australia is missing the regulatory oversight and enforcement that demands better of all those who manufacture the products our pets consume”.

The CHOICE open letter campaign aims to ensure Australian consumers will have reassurance in knowing standards are in place to protect the health of their pets.


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    Pet Food Reviews is an independent reviewer of dog and cat foods in Australia.