Lack of pet food regulation a risk to Australian pets

17 Aug 2021

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has joined forces with RSPCA Australia and the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) to express concern at the significant delays in developing and implementing robust regulation for Australia’s pet food industry. It is now three years since a Senate inquiry recommended a mandatory Pet Food Standard to ensure pet food quality and safety.

“All pets in Australia should have access to safe, high-quality food, that adheres to animal welfare standards in regards to processing. Pet owners should have confidence that the food they’re buying is safe and that if an unexpected problem arises, there will be prompt and regulated recall” said AVA PetFAST Representative Dr Sue Foster.

“At the moment there is no regulation of pet food in Australia and the national Standard for pet food is voluntary. The recent adverse event in Victoria, where at least 67 dogs became ill, with 23 dying, has tragically highlighted this lack of protection.”

Moving from a voluntary Standard to a mandatory one would guarantee that pet food (including pet meat) meets a high standard of food safety and traceability, help to prevent potential contaminants and toxins from entering pet food, and ensure that there is a mandatory recall process to prevent further illness and death of pets if a problem with pet food occurs.

In June 2018, the Federal Government instigated a national review of pet food safety regulation. However, over three years later, nothing has changed.

“Pets have never been more important, with increasing number of people turning to pets to provide for comfort and companionship in these uncertain times. The consequences of losing a beloved companion to unsafe pet food are profound and long lasting. However, to date, the Government has not released any report or outlined a way forward.”

“This process has already taken too long. The time to act is now before any more Australian pets become ill and die.”

“Pets are considered family members and so the community expectation is that pet food should be regulated in the same way as human food. Australians should be able to buy food for their pets knowing that the industry is regulated to reduce the chance of unsafe pet food being produced and sold and to ensure that there is a standard recall process across the industry to guarantee a prompt and effective response if a problem is identified.”

The AVA strongly recommends that nation-wide government regulation of pet food is established and that the Australian Standard AS5812 becomes mandatory. This will provide confidence for pet owners and their veterinarians that all pet foods are produced to the same high standard.

The AVA, RSPCA and the PFIAA wrote a joint letter to the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Mr David Littleproud, with these concerns in July but have not yet received a response.

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on 0439 628 898 or

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health, and welfare.