Pet Food Regulation Report 2019
Full Report Attached Below:
Pet Food Regulation Report 2019 – Australia
Meat used as pet food (also termed as pet meat) is regulated in every state and territory of Australia except for Australian Capital Territory. Every state and other territories require that knackeries, butcher shops, animal food processing plants and meat processing plants hold an eligible licence with the state’s and territory’s food authority. There are requirements concerning labelling and auditing of pet meat and testing of pet meat for chemicals.
Our analysis of pet meat laws led us to the conclusion that Queensland’s pet meat laws encourage appropriate labelling of pet meat and that the other Australian states and territories should adopt these laws. We are of the view that Tasmanian pet meat laws’ requirement of annual testing should be adopted.
At present, there are no laws that regulate the manufacturing and marketing of pet food in Australia. Australian Consumer Laws do provide some form of legal recourse where section 3 of the Australian Consumer Laws, pet food may be considered as a consumer good, and the pet owner may be considered as a consumer. Therefore, if the manufacturer of pet food makes false or misleading statements or engages in misleading or deceptive conduct, then the pet food owner may take action against the pet food manufacturer under that consumer law.
To date, the current laws are not enough to protect pets and pet owners from unscrupulous pet food manufacturers. The current regulatory system does not encourage reporting of pet food-related incidents by pet owners.
There have been propositions that Australian Consumer Laws or the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Act 1991 should be amended to regulate the pet food industry in Australia. As this is the case, there have been calls to make the Australian Standards AS 5812:2017 freely available or mandatory. Note: if it was mandatory some parts of the standard would become freely available.
Our review and research of the current Australian Consumer Law and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Act 1991 has lead us to the conclusion that amending the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Act 1991 to regulate the Australian Pet Food Industry would be the most appropriate option.
The Australian Consumer Law can be amended to include pet food regulation within the scope of ACCC. The ACCC does not have the requisite technical expertise to regulate the pet food industry. The ACCC does not control the manufacturing and marketing of human food in Australia. The Food Standards Code is developed by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand and is monitored and enforced in Australia by authorities in the states and territories. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand body coordinates and monitors food in Australia. Therefore, amending the Australian Consumer Law is not suggested.
On the other hand, the insertion of pet food into the Food Standards Code is plausible. The process and format are entirely transferrable. The purchasers of both human and pet food are not different, and both human and pet food are sold in the same space. Consumers make the purchase decision based on ingredients, labelling, nutritional value and the like. As such, with regards to practicability, it makes more sense to amend the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Act 1991 rather than amend the Australian Consumer Law.
The pet food requirements can apply to Australia only and thus remove the need to seek approval from New Zealand. Government health bodies at state and territory level would then be tasked with regulating pet food. We also recommend that organisations such as AUS-MEAT should be considered for auditing pet food at regular intervals.
Regarding the Australian Standards AS 5812:2017, we are of the view that it is difficult to make them freely available. If the Australian Government funds the development of one standard, then the Government may be compelled to support the development of other standards, incurring a substantial cost.
We recommend considering licencing arrangements with Standard Australia to distribute the standard AS 5812:2017 freely.
If mandatory standards for pet food are introduced in Australia, then those standards will be based on parts of the voluntary standard AS 5812:2017. Pet Food manufacturers will still be required to purchase the voluntary standard to access the remaining sections of the voluntary standards. This option may not be ideal.
Finally, if the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Act 1991 is amended to include pet food, then that amendment will cover labelling, marketing and manufacturing standards. The need for making the Australian Standards 5812:2017 freely available may cease to be a concern.
Overall, amending the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Act 1991 would be the most pragmatic option for the pet food industry in Australia.
For more information read the report linked above.