Ruminant Feed Ban
Victoria, and Australia, enjoy a global reputation for being free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and other Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies.
Stock food manufacturers, sellers of stock food, and livestock producers need to be mindful of the need to protect our BSE free status by rigorous adherence to the Ruminant Feed Ban.
What is the Ruminant Feed Ban?
The feeding of Restricted Animal Material to ruminants is banned throughout Australia. The ban is uniformly enforced through regulatory compliance and industry QA programs supported by appropriate screening and confirmatory tests.
What is Restricted Animal Material?
Restricted Animal Material is any material taken from a vertebrate animal, other than gelatin, milk products, oils extracted from fish, mineralised sea bird guano, treated tallow or treated cooking oil. It includes rendered products such as blood meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal, fish meal, poultry meal and feather meal, and compounded feeds made from these products.
What livestock must not be fed Restricted Animal Material?
The feeding of Restricted Animal Material to ruminants is banned throughout Australia. Ruminants are animals that chew the cud, such as cattle, sheep, goats, deer, buffalos, camels, camelids and other cloven–hoofed species.
Why is the feeding of Restricted Animal Material to ruminants banned?
Australia is free from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and other TSEs.
The Ruminant Feed Ban, and its enforcement, serves to ensure that if the BSE disease agent were ever introduced to Australia it would not be able to be amplified and establish a cycle of infection.
The principal rationale for the Ruminant Feed Ban is the protection of public and animal health, and the interests of trade. Continued access to export markets for beef and a range of related livestock products depends upon the continued implementation of a wide range of activities to ensure that recognition of free status is maintained. Many of these activities, including the Ruminant Feed Ban, are based on the requirements and recommendations of international bodies such as OIE and WHO.
What are the responsibilities of manufacturers, suppliers and sellers of stock food?
Manufacturers, suppliers and sellers of stock food (ie any manufactured food for feeding to livestock) containing Restricted Animal Material are required to ensure that the stock food is labelled:
"This product contains restricted animal material - DO NOT FEED TO CATTLE, SHEEP, GOATS, DEER OR OTHER RUMINANTS".
For bulk product the labelling may be applied to an invoice. For feed or meal in bags a tag must be attached to the product.
Manufactured stockfoods that do not contain Restricted Animal Material must be labelled:
"This product does not contain Restricted Animal Material".
For more information please refer to the letter to renderers, manufacturers, retailers and end-users of stock food:
What are the responsibilities of end users of stock food?
End-users of stock food, such as livestock producers, must not feed Restricted Animal Material, or compounded feed or meal containing restricted animal material, or any product labelled as containing restricted animal material, to a ruminant. Users must also prevent exposure of ruminants to Restricted Animal Material.
What legislation applies in Victoria?
Victoria has had a legislated Ruminant Feed Ban since 1996.
The ban is effected by an Order made by the Minister for Agriculture under the Agriculture and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 and by the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) (Ruminant Feed) Regulations 2015.
How is compliance with the Ruminant Feed Ban enforced?
A comprehensive, risk-based compliance inspection/audit program is undertaken by all State and Territory authorities that targets all sectors of the livestock feed chain from renderers, to stock food manufacturers, stock food resellers and end-users. The ongoing program is modified in light of non-conformities identified and corrective actions that have been implemented. Samples may be taken and tested for Restricted Animal Material as part of the inspection/audit process.
Industry also continues to put considerable work into developing Quality Assurance programs, components of which address BSE-related ruminant feed restrictions. An almost universally used National Vendor Declaration, underpinned by penalties for false statements, maintains integrity of the ban when cattle are traded.
What other actions are taken to ensure Australia remains free from BSE?
The ruminant feed ban is supported by the following mechanisms:
- Quarantine measures to prevent entry into the country of the BSE agent. Since 1966, the importation of animal-derived meat and bone meal (MBM) into Australia has been prohibited from all countries other than New Zealand, which is also free of animal TSEs.
- A comprehensive, risk-based compliance inspection program undertaken by state and territory authorities that targets all sectors in the livestock feed chain from renderers to stockfeed manufacturers, stockfeed resellers and end-users. The program is modified in light of non-conformities identified and corrective actions that have been implemented.
- Various quality management and assurance measures implemented by the ruminant livestock and stockfeed manufacturing industries in Australia to complement the official regulatory and compliance inspection program.
- Education and training programs to create awareness and develop the necessary competencies and capacity regarding the legislative rules on animal feed and TSEs. Training and education of relevant groups such as farmers, renderers, stockfeed manufacturers, stockfeed resellers and statutory bodies is ongoing. These activities constitute Australia's effective ruminant feed ban, as part of its control measures to prevent the entry and establishment of the BSE agent in this country.