Image: CHOICE.

More than 20,000 pet lovers have sent an open letter to federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud calling for safer pet food standards.

The letter, sent in mid-September, follows calls from the pet food industry and animal welfare groups for the introduction of mandatory standards after reports of a recent spike in animal deaths and illnesses due to toxic pet food.

In July, Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer reported 45 instances of liver disease in dogs caused by unsafe pet food, resulting in 10 deaths.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has been highlighting the lack of regulation and stories of affected pets and their families since 2018.

“The pet food industry wants this,” CHOICE consumer advocate Jonathan Brown said.

“Animal welfare groups want this. Consumer advocates want this. And now over 22,000 Australians want their pets to be safe from dodgy pet food.

“Pet owners just want the assurance that the checks and balances are in place to keep our pets safe.”

The initiative has the support of RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Zito, who said: “All pets in Australia should have access to safe, high-quality food and pet owners must be able to have confidence that the food they’re buying is safe.

“A mandatory standard against which all pet food producers must be audited is needed to guarantee that pet foods meet a high standard of food safety and traceability, to prevent potential contaminants and toxins from entering pet food, and to ensure that there is a mandatory recall process to prevent further illnesses and deaths if a problem occurs.”

The three requests for Minister Littleproud are:

  • A mandatory industry standard
  • A system for faster recalls
  • An independent regulator

However, despite the efforts of CHOICE and other advocates, Mr Littleproud is yet to respond.

“This has dragged on long enough, and we must act now to prevent future tragedy,” Dr Zito said.

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