It’s a dog’s break­fast

Push for pet food man­u­fac­tur­ers to be prop­erly reg­u­lated

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - DANIELLE LE MESSURIER

AUS­TRALIA’S $4 bil­lion pet food busi­ness is fac­ing an im­mi­nent shake-up with in­dus­try mem­bers push­ing for more power to reg­u­late man­u­fac­tur­ers, who cur­rently have no obli­ga­tion to re­call prod­ucts even when they kill or harm an an­i­mal. The Daily Tele­graph can re­veal fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud, whose depart­ment is lead­ing a work­ing group into pet food reg­u­la­tion, has asked the group to ex­pe­dite their work fol­low­ing a spate of deaths linked to pre­mium brand Ad­vance Der­mo­care.

The dry dog food was vol­un­tar­ily re­called last year when it was linked with the con­di­tion megae­soph­a­gus — a dis­or­der where the oe­soph­a­gus be­comes en­larged — caus­ing the deaths of 17 dogs and feed­ing prob­lems in 90 oth­ers.

“I’m a dog-owner my­self and I think it’s im­por­tant we get this is­sue sorted,” Mr Lit­tleproud said.

Aus­tralia’s pet food in­dus­try has in­creased in worth by 35 per cent since 2013 but there are still no laws gov­ern­ing pet food safety — only a vol­un­tary stan­dard which costs about $120 to pur­chase.

The Pet Food In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia, the peak body for pet food busi­nesses that es­tab­lishes and re­views in­dus­try stan­dards, has 63 cor­po­rate mem­bers that are re­spon­si­ble for 90 per cent of in­dus­try turnover.

The Tele­graph can also re­veal five pet food man­u­fac­tur­ers sit on the board of the PFIAA with the pres­i­dent and vice-pres­i­dent from Nes­tle Pu­rina Pet­care and Mars Pet­care, which have a du­op­oly on the mar­ket.

The other board mem­bers are from 4Legs Pet Food Com­pany, Diana Pet Food and Real Pet Food Com­pany.

But de­spite the size of the in­dus­try, the PFIAA only has a part-time ex­ec­u­tive man­ager who over­sees ev­ery­thing from main­tain­ing stake­holder re­la­tions to han­dling pub­lic in­quiries and run­ning PetFAST, the only re­call mech­a­nism avail­able.

For­mer ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Dun­can Hall told a Se­nate in­quiry it was “not a well­re­sourced as­so­ci­a­tion”.

New ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Carolyn Macgill said the PFIAA “strongly en­cour­ages” mem­bers to be cer­ti­fied to the Aus­tralian Stan­dard for the Man­u­fac­tur­ing and Mar­ket­ing of Pet Food, adding that “this is the most sig­nif­i­cant fo­cus of our ac­tiv­ity”.

RSPCA vet and PhD can­di­date Dr Bron­wyn Orr said vol­un­tary stan­dards were “not ac­cept­able”.

“The whole sys­tem and sup­ply chain — there’s a bunch of holes and gaps in reg­u­la­tion that re­ally need to be filled,” Dr Orr said.

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