PET FOOD SAFETY AND LABELLING REVIEW OPEN FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
If you weren’t aware that there was a Pet Food Safety Review in progress it’s not surprising – it has been kept below the general public’s radar, as was the human Food Labelling Review earlier this year.
The Pet Food Industry Association of Australia, together with the RSPCA, Quarantine Dept, DAFF and Australian Veterinary Association have developed a Draft Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food which, when finalised, will replace their current self-regulated Code of Practice and offer the consumer more peace of mind. While this is not government regulation, it will hold all domestic and imported pet food to a strict standard of manufacture, labelling and marketing. The draft is available for public comment prior to finalisation and can be accessed here as Draft # 5812
MEDIA INTEREST AND PET OWNERS’ CALLS FOR OVERHAUL
This is a response to pet owners’ demands for regulation of the industry following three separate pet food/treat recalls in 2008/2009 (Kramar chicken treats, Orijen kibble, Virbac dog chews) and considerable media coverage:
ABC 7.30 Report January 12 2009
http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2008/s2464272.htm (Transcript & link to video)
Ch 7 Today Tonight July 13 2010
http://au.videoyahoo.com/watch/7872869/20861921 (Video of segment)
LACK OF PUBLICITY AND PUBLIC INFORMATION BY BIG BUSINESS OR GOVERNMENT
The Draft has been made available for public comment with minimal, if any, publicity unless you were going looking for it. The RSPCA has information on its website with guidelines for response here:
Veterinarians have been alerted and comment invited via their Association. Pet food industrialists have been alerted and comment invited by the PFIAA who have posted a link for consumers on their home page here – if consumers happen to access it:
However there has been no publicity of which I am aware aimed at consumers, who are the primary stakeholders and the very people who finance this A$6 billion dollar industry, even though Australians are one of the largest pet owning populations in the world with over 60% of households having a dog or cat companion.
Yes, it’s “Big Business”, and we all know how Big Business often treats its customers. That’s why I’m sending you this today and I hope you accept this opportunity in the spirit it is offered and do not consider this to be an intrusion. I just felt you deserved to know and be given the chance to add your voice.
PIMC PET FOOD SAFETY WORKING GROUP STILL DELIBERATING
In June I made an unsolicited submission to the Primary Industries Ministerial Council Pet Food Safety Working Group. This is a separate body from the committee which produced the Draft Standard for pet food and they are still meeting/deliberating. They have failed to report their progress via communiqués as promised and I have this week alerted the new Minister of DAFF and the opposition Parliamentary Secretary to this fact. I have attached my June letter (without attachments but with references) for your interest. Perhaps some of the issues I raised in it are of concern to you too. These are my own views and in no way am I suggesting they should also be yours or that I ask you to agree with my viewpoint. It may, though, be useful in summarising for you some issues of concern and assist you in considering and forming your own viewpoint and response to the Draft Standard.
THE ORIJEN CATS
Some of us have had pets die, have pets who have been harmed, or have pets who have been permanently maimed by pet food. This is how my cat, Colette, is today after eating gamma irradiated food – in a wheelchair, rear legs paralyzed and urinary incontinent.
THE PROCESS TO FOLLOW IF YOU WISH TO PARTICIPATE
The process for comment on the Draft is rather complex and I believe, exclusive – not in the Australian spirit of a Fair Go. The frail elderly, blind (Guide Dog owners!), computer illiterate – all are excluded from this process. Let’s be a voice for them too. And if you don’t have a pet, or like me, feed human food to your fur family, let’s consider the working animals that help make our lives secure – working farm dogs and cats, guide dogs, therapy dogs and cats, Customs dogs, Army dogs and Police dogs – who would stand in the line of fire and take a bullet to save their handler – let’s give them a voice. In fact, I believe this issue affects everyone.
Please do your best to not let the rather cumbersome method of commenting put you off – that’s what “they” probably want.
It’s a two step process as follows:
1) Get your pdf copy of the Draft Standard
Follow this link to the Standards Australia publications website. The below link should take you straight to the Draft #5812. You must register to download the Draft.
Register for free, download the pdf, consider its contents, jot down the comments you wish to make. Note the Draft is licenced to you only and should not be passed on.
2) Go to the Standards hub website to comment.
The web address is on the first page of the pdf you downloaded and you will need to register here as well.
Find Draft#5812 in the list and click on the “submit a comment line”.
This will take you to the registration page – click on the Register message on the right hand side. Fill in the registration form. They send you a confirmation email and direct you back to the log-in page so you can submit your comments.
Note you can return to re-read and edit your comment before you finally submit it.
Note that email, fax, or letter submissions will not be accepted or read.
The RSPCA have offered to help anyone with advice for this process – in their email to me they said:
“The process for comment is a bit complicated but members of the public can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions or issues and we will assist them. Please do feel free to pass this on to any interested parties. We are hoping to garner as much support as we can for the RSPCA guidelines/position.”
You might not agree in full with the RSPCA position – read what they have to say and decide, it’s up to you. The same goes for my letter attached.
Please give yourself a couple of nights over the next two weeks to do all this.
Submissions close Tuesday 23 November.
Please take part. It’s what we’ve been asking for. It’s what we and our pets deserve.