Prohibited food waste (commonly called swill) is food waste containing meat or any other mammalian products or by-products including imported milk products. Milk itself, or Australian milk products or by-products from a factory or milk processing premises licensed under the Dairy Act 2000, are permitted. Prohibited food waste must not be fed to pigs.
In many countries, food waste is used as a cheap source of food for pigs. However, its use is at a very dangerous practice. The feeding of prohibited food waste is banned in Australia as it has been shown to cause outbreaks of serious animal diseases overseas.
Why is feeding prohibited food waste dangerous?
Food waste can contain viruses that cause diseases in animals. These viruses are often not destroyed by chilling, freezing, cooking or curing. Diseases that can be spread by feeding food waste containing mammalian meat and dairy products to pigs include Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever, Classical Swine Fever, Aujeszky’s Disease, Swine Vesicular Disease and Transmissible Gastroenteritis.
Australia is very fortunate to be free of these and other exotic diseases that could seriously affect our livestock industries and trade.
Australia has strict quarantine laws that prevent the importation of animal products from countries where these diseases are known to be present.
Every year, large quantities of illegally imported animal products are seized by quarantine authorities. Some illegally imported animal products may pass undetected through this line of defence.
The banning of feeding prohibited food waste to pigs provides a vital second line of defence because it prevents potentially infected foodstuffs coming into contact with susceptible animals.
When exposed to the foot and mouth disease virus, pigs produce huge quantities of virus that very easily spread to other livestock species. The foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK in 2001 is believed to have started from feeding prohibited food waste (swill) to pigs.
Feeding prohibited food waste to pigs is the most likely way that Australian livestock may be exposed to an exotic disease agent. An exotic disease outbreak would severely affect the livestock industries and the Australian economy because of loss of valuable domestic and export markets and the cost of eradication. It has been estimated that an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Australia would cost $50 billion over a decade.
Responsibility of food handlers, transporters and disposers of food wastes
Businesses that prepare and sell food (for example, restaurants, hotels, fast food outlets, hospitals, schools and other institutions) must not dispose of food waste in any way that would make it available for feeding to pigs. Likewise, those involved in handling, transporting and disposal of food waste must not dispose of food waste in any way that would make it available for feeding to pigs. If left-over fruit, vegetables or breads have been on the same plate as animal products or by-products, they cannot be fed to pigs.
Owners must not feed prohibited food waste to pigs. This includes food scraps from the household and from food businesses. Although some people may think that food waste is a cheap source of food, this is a dangerous practice that can put the livestock industries and the whole economy at risk.
Pig producers also have a legal obligation to obtain a Property Identification Code (PIC), regardless of how many pigs they own, to ensure the full traceability of all livestock in the event of a disease outbreak. Producers can obtain a PIC free of charge from DEPI by phoning 1800 678 779 during office hours.
Penalty for feeding prohibited food waste
There are strict laws concerning the collection, storage, treatment and disposal of food waste in Australia. Those convicted of feeding prohibited food waste to pigs in Victoria can be fined up to $17,500 under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994. Similar penalties apply to a person who supplies prohibited food waste to another person and is aware that it is being fed to pigs.
What can pigs be fed?
Pigs can be fed commercially prepared pig rations, grain, fruit and vegetable waste from markets, bread that does not contain any meat material (for example: bacon or ham), milk, milk product or by-products (if the latter two originate from a factory or milk processing premises licensed under the Dairy Act 2000). It is not acceptable to feed vegetable, fruit or bread scraps that have been in contact with animal products or by-products.
Keeping exotic disease out of Australia is everyone’s responsibility! How would you feel if you were responsible for introducing a disease like Foot and Mouth disease into Australia? Keep exotic diseases out of Australia. Do not feed prohibited food waste to pigs