Who wants pet food regulation? We all do!

With 92% of pet owners agreeing that they love their pets, Australians understand the importance of safe and nutritious pet food for their beloved family members and expect the very best from pet food manufacturers.

While Australia currently has a voluntary standard in place for pet food that Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) members adhere to, there is no obligation for non-members to follow the processes and protocols to ensure your pet’s food is safe and compliant.

Unfortunately, over the years, this has led to failings in food safety and pet deaths.

A recent PFIAA survey has highlighted that pet owners are demanding mandatory regulation of the pet food industry, with Queenslanders (93%) and Victorians (88%) leading the charge and pushing for the government to do more.

Currently, the voluntary Australian Standard AS5812 covers processes to ensure the quality of food produced, nutritional requirements are met, guidance on the use of additives and what information is to be made available on the pack for consumers.

The Standard has been further strengthened to include annual third party audits of PFIAA members and the introduction of a mandatory recall protocol for pet food quality and safety issues to align with human food recalls.

In the data collected by the PFIAA, 97% of pet owners agree that the quality of pet food they give to their pet is important for their health and wellbeing. They also feel strongly that a quality assurance process should be included in the Standard (83.6%) along with nutritional requirements being met (80.4% of pet owners surveyed).

Interestingly, pet owners would also expect information on how the food is produced and hygiene should be included, and almost half (49.8%) demand that the marketing of products should avoid making misleading claims. The inclusion of food purpose (dietary or therapeutic) would also be a welcome addition to the Standard, which 42.2% of pet owners would like to see.

Understandably, pet owners are concerned about pet food being produced in Australia without any mandatory regulation, with almost half of pet owners surveyed holding concerns over manufacturing practices and the quality of the food produced.

PFIAA data shows that 33.6% of pet owners are deeply concerned about what ingredients are allowed in pet food, with 63% agreeing that a list of banned ingredients must be included in the Australian Standard. However, only 14.3% of pet owners are concerned about the nutritional value of their pet’s food; Northern Territory and New South Wales residents were primarily concerned with the quality and nutritional value of their pet’s food, while Queenslanders and Victorians were far more worried about ingredients.

To have mandatory regulation of our pet food industry here in Australia, the question naturally turns to what the consequences of non-compliance would be and what impact a non-compliant pet food would have.

PFIAA data suggests that residents in Tasmania (36.4%) and South Australia (30%) expressed the most concern when it came to a lack of consequences for pet food manufacturers who produce unsafe pet food – while surprisingly pet owners in Victoria (9.4%) and Northern Territory were the least concerned.

With almost all pet owners surveyed agreeing that health and wellbeing is an utmost priority for their pets and that they care about the quality of the food that they’re feeding them with, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that pet food produced is safe and nutritious.

As a pet-loving country, Australian pet owners demand more from the pet food industry and overwhelmingly want to see the Australia Standards made mandatory.