Swill Feeding (Feeding Prohibited Food Waste)
Feeding prohibited food waste, also known as swill feeding, is the act of feeding to pigs food scraps or food waste that contains meat or which has been in contact with meat. The feeding of swill (prohibited food waste) to pigs poses a huge disease risk and illegal in Australia.
The Risks posed by Swill Feeding
The risk is from infectious disease, particularly exotic viral diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Classical Swine Fever, which are very effectively spread through feeding to pigs infected or contaminated meat or meat products which may be imported from a country where the diseases is present. It is not acceptable to assume that meat or meat products in the food waste that you have is safe in this respect.
Swill feeding initiated the devastating outbreaks of FMD in the UK in 1967 and 2001, and in South Africa in 2000. It continues to be responsible for the spread of African Swine Fever in the Russian Federation and Africa, and is implicated in outbreaks of Classical Swine Fever in South America, the Russian Federation and China. Consequently many countries globally regulate or ban swill feeding.
The maps below show the recent global distribution of outbreaks of these three important exotic diseases.
Australia is presently free from FMD. It is estimated that an outbreak of FMD in Australia would impact the national economy by up to $50 billion over a ten year period. During the 2001 UK outbreak, millions of animals were destroyed to control and eradicate the disease.
Given the risks posed, the Department has developed a suite of information to help educate the public and producers about the dangers of feeding food waste to pigs. Most of this information is aimed at people with small-scale pig farms or those who keep pigs as pets.
What foods are banned?
Meat, meat products and any food that is served on the same plate or that has come into contact with meat is prohibited feed, and must not be fed or supplied for feeding to pigs. Dairy products from overseas are also banned.
Food that cannot be fed to pigs includes:
- salad and vegetables that has been served with meat
- butcher's shop waste
- pies, pasties, deli foods - including bacon and cheese from overseas and salads that contain meat.
What foods can be fed to pigs?
For more information on what you can feed your pigs and the detail on what you cannot feed your pigs, please read our technical note on prohibited food waste for pigs.
If in doubt, do not feed leftover food to your pigs.
To ensure the health of your pigs it is best for them to have a balanced diet and there are specific commercial feeds available that are designed to meet their nutritional needs.
Read more about pig health and welfare.
Information for small scale pig farmers, hobby farmers and those that have pigs as pets
Do not feed meat, meat products, some dairy products or anything that has been in contact with meat to your pigs.
Information for food outlets
The Department has prepared information for food outlets to help ensure they are aware of the restrictions around the disposal of food waste:
Prohibited pig feed information for food outlets fact sheet
Prohibited pig feed information for food outlets fact sheet - Arabic
Prohibited pig feed information for food outlets fact sheet - Chinese
Prohibited pig feed information for food outlets fact sheet - Vietnamese
Responsible disposal of food waste
Businesses that prepare and sell food (e.g. restaurants, bakeries, hotels, fast food outlets, hospitals), have a legal responsibility to dispose of food waste appropriately. It is illegal to provide a person with prohibited food waste that is to be fed to pigs. Substantial penalties apply.
If you become aware of likely swill feeding you must cease supplying (if that is the case) and report the following activities to the Department immediately on 136 186 or by email to FoodOutletRep@ecodev.vic.gov.au.
Environmental Health Officers
The Department has been working collaboratively with Department of Health and Human Services (through Environmental Health Officers) and local councils on an ongoing basis to raise awareness of swill feeding, particularly targeting licenced food premises that have the potential to provide swill to pig producers.
Environmental Health Officers check food outlets to ensure that they are not supplying swill when routinely auditing food outlets and educate food operators about the risks and legislation relating to such practices.
For more information please read Managing the Swill Feeding Risks through Environmental Health Officers