Feeding prohibited pig feed

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In many countries, food waste is used as a cheap source of food for pigs. However, its use is a very dangerous practice.

Prohibited pig feed (or swill) is the act of feeding food scraps or food waste that contains meat or which has been in contact with meat to pigs.

The feeding of prohibited pig feed to pigs is banned in Australia, as it has been shown to cause outbreaks of serious animal diseases overseas.

The risks posed by feeding of prohibited pig feed

The risk is from infectious disease, particularly exotic viral diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), African swine fever and Classical swine fever.  These diseases 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.

Outbreaks in other countries

Feeding prohibited pig feed initiated the devastating outbreaks of FMD in the UK in 1967 and 2001, and in South Africa in 2000. It continues to be a common factor for the introduction of African Swine Fever and Classical Swine Fever in countries previously free of it. During the 2001 UK outbreak, millions of animals were destroyed to control and eradicate the disease.

Many countries globally regulate or ban feeding prohibited pig feed.

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.

The maps below show the recent global distribution of outbreaks of these three important exotic diseases.

Map of the world with some countries in red. The red countries show where there is African Swine Fever outbreaks

Distribution of Classical Swine Fever outbreaks 1 January 2015 to 16 June 2017 (OIE WAHIS)

Distribution of Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks 1 January 2015 to 16 June 2017 (OIE WAHIS

Given the risks posed, Agriculture Victoria 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.

Foods that 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 include:

  • salad and vegetables that has been served with meat
  • butcher's shop waste
  • pies, pasties, deli foods  —  including bacon, cheese (from overseas) and salads that contain meat.

Why feeding prohibited pig feed is dangerous

Food waste can contain viruses that cause diseases in animals and these viruses are often not destroyed by:

  • chilling
  • freezing
  • cooking
  • 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
  • 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 pig feed to pigs provides a vital second line of defence because it prevents potentially infected foodstuffs coming into contact with susceptible animals.

When infected with the foot and mouth disease virus, pigs produce huge quantities of virus that very easily spread to other livestock species.

The laws around prohibited food waste

Victoria is committed to achieving harmonised legislation around prohibited food waste with states and territories in order to improve overall compliance and awareness of the dangers associated with feeding prohibited pig feed.

In Victoria, there are strict laws concerning prohibited pig feed and its exposure to pigs.

Individuals and businesses that contravene these laws could face fines of up to $19,028 and $57,085 respectively. These penalties apply to a person who supplies swill to another person, who knows it is being used for feeding pigs.

Penalty for feeding prohibited pig feed

Those convicted of feeding prohibited pig feed to pigs in Victoria can be fined up to $19,028 under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.

Responsibility of livestock owners

Owners must not feed prohibited pig feed 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) online or by phoning us on 1800 678 779 during office hours.

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.

For more information download:

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  that originate from a factory or milk processing premises (licensed under the Dairy Act 2000).

It is not acceptable to feed vegetables, fruit or bread scraps that have been in contact with meat or material originating from mammalian origin.

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.

Responsibility of food businesses, 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.

If you become aware of likely feeding of prohibited pig feed you must stop supplying and report it to us immediately on 136 186 or email FoodOutletRep@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

Information for food outlets

Agriculture Victoria has prepared information for food outlets to help ensure they are aware of the restrictions around the disposal of food waste:

Environmental Health Officers

Agriculture Victoria has been working collaboratively with Department of Health and Human Services  and local councils to raise awareness of  prohibited pig feed.

Environmental Health Officers are targeting licensed food premises that have the potential to provide prohibited pig feed to pig producers. The officers also check food outlets and educate food operators about the risks and legislation relating to such practices.

Recent surveys in Victoria have shown that about 10 per cent of food premises provide food waste to piggeries.

The role as an Environmental Health Officer is that of an auditor, educator and notifier of suspect prohibited pig feed.

If you suspect a food outlet is supplying prohibited food waste, please notify us by completing the Notification of Premises Supplying Food Waste to Livestock online form.

Or download:

Notifications will be reviewed by us and the risk posed assessed. Departmental officers will investigate instances of high risk activity with a view to enforcement action.

Responsibility of the general public

Entry of exotic diseases into Australia could occur through the illegal import of prohibited animal products.

Travellers should not bring animal products into the country. If in doubt, declare items to quarantine officers at the point of entry.

Section 41 of the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994

The latest version of the Act can be found on the Victorian Legislation website.

Swill feeding of pigs

(1) A person must not:

  • (a) store any material originating from a mammal or that has been in direct contact with material originating from a mammal at premises at which pigs are kept
  • (b) collect any material originating from a mammal or that has been in direct contact with material originating from a mammal for use for feeding to any pig
  • (c) feed or allow access to, any material originating from a mammal or that has been in direct contact with material originating from a mammal, to any pig
  • (ca) allow or direct another person to feed, or allow access to, any material that originates from a mammal or that has been in direct contact with material originating from a mammal, to any pig or
  • (d) supply to another person material that originates from a mammal or that has been in direct contact with material originating from a mammal that the person supplying the material knows is for use for feeding to any pig.

Penalty:

  • 120 penalty units, in the case of a natural person
  • 360 penalty units, in the case of a body corporate

(2) Subsection (1) Unless a declaration made by the Minister under Section 41B in force, subsection (1) does not apply to any material which is:

  • (a) the flesh, bones, blood or offal of mammals slaughtered at an abattoir or a knackery licensed under the Meat Industry Act 1993 which is fed to pigs at that abattoir or knackery with the approval of the Secretary
  • (b) any material containing flesh, bones, blood or offal of mammal carcases which has been treated by a process approved in writing by the Secretary
  • (c) the carcass of a mammal which has been slaughtered at premises for the purpose of feeding it to pigs at the same premises if the premises have been approved in writing by the Secretary
  • (d) milk
  • (e) a milk product or milk by-product from a dairy manufacturing business licensed under the Dairy Act 2000.

Currently there are no permits approved by the Secretary to feed any parts of  mammalian carcases to pigs.

More information

For more information on feeding of prohibited pig feed and exotic diseases, contact your local Animal Health Officer, District Veterinary Officer within the department or contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186.

Page last updated: 16 Jul 2020