Consumer groups have intensified the pressure on the Federal government to regulate the pet food industry.
An open letter signed by 22,338 Australians calling for safer pet food was sent today to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
There are claims locally produced pet food has become a dumping ground for unwanted or suspect meats.
Consumer advocacy group CHOICE initiated the online campaign after more than 20 Victorian dogs died after being fed toxic horse meat in the past few months.
Australia's vets have already teamed up with the RSPCA to push for action to regulate the industry.
But Mr Littleproud has already said regulation of domestic pet food remained a decision for states and territories even though he shared their concern about the safety of the industry.
Victoria is already investigating what changes it call make on what goes into pet food after the dog deaths.
CHOICE says it has been highlighting the lack of regulation and stories of affected pets and their families since 2018.
"The pet food industry wants this. 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," CHOICE consumer advocate Jonathan Brown said.
"A mandatory standard for pet food is a win-win for David Littleproud and the Federal government," Mr Brown said.
"Industry and community overwhelmingly want this to happen. Pet-owners just want the assurance that the checks and balances are in place to keep our pets safe."
The letter sent to Minister Littleproud lobbies for:
- A mandatory industry standard - All pet food should be required to meet an enforceable standard.
- A system for faster recalls - The ability to get dodgy pet food off the shelves and out of homes fast.
- An independent regulator - a Department or regulator should be given responsibility to regulate pet food.
"Other countries have put in place minimum standards for pet food and Australia can too" Mr Brown said.
"We need a mandatory standard, faster recalls and an independent regulator to make sure pet food is safe and our pets aren't needlessly put at risk."
In the case of the Victorian dog deaths, an investigation found horse meat containing the toxin indospicine after the horses grazed on the hardy outback shrub Indigo.
The Victorian meat regulator PrimeSafe is working with industry to develop a "guidance" to avoid future meat contamination issues.
A Senate inquiry made recommendations in 2018 to fix pet food regulation.
Mr Littleproud set up a pet food review working group later that year to debate the issue.
Mr Littleproud said at the moment regulation of domestic pet food remained a decision for states and territories.
"The (pet food review) group has taken into consideration the recommendations of a Senate inquiry," Mr Littleproud said.
He said he had updated the AVA, the RSPCA and Pet Food Industry Association Australia on the work.
This working group is finalising its advice to state, territory and federal agriculture ministers which is expected later this year.