Pig feed: why it is illegal to feed food scraps (swill) to pigs

Page last updated: Monday, 8 October 2018 - 1:50pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Feeding food waste to pigs is illegal in Australia because it could introduce devastating diseases to pigs and other livestock. Food scraps or food waste that contains or has come into contact with meat or meat products is known as 'prohibited pig feed' or 'swill'. 

To protect Australia's livestock and our markets, it is vital that everyone who supplies food waste or feeds pigs understands what must not be fed to pigs.

What is wrong with feeding food waste or scraps to pigs?

Foods that contain meat or meat products, or that have had contact with meat or meat products, may contain viruses that cause severe disease in pigs. It is illegal to feed these products to pigs.

While it may seem like a good idea to feed leftover food or food scraps from homes, supermarkets, restaurants or bakeries to pigs, these foods may contain meat or meat products, or may have had contact with meat or meat products.

Feeding illegal feed to pigs has been linked with outbreaks of livestock disease overseas. The devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom in 2001 is thought to have started when pigs were fed waste containing illegally imported meat products carrying the foot-and-mouth disease virus.

Australia is fortunate to be free of many diseases that could affect our livestock industries and trade. Feeding prohibited feed to pigs is the most likely way exotic diseases could be introduced into Australia’s livestock. These diseases include:

Australia has strict quarantine and biosecurity measures to prevent the importation of animal products from countries where these diseases are known to occur. But some illegally imported meat or products that contain meat may pass undetected through this line of defence.

This is why it is vital not to feed pigs with these products.

Which foods are illegal to feed to pigs?

It is illegal to feed pigs anything that:

  • contains meat, meat products or any other products from mammals
  • has been in contact with meat, meat products or any other products from mammals.

If you don’t know whether food has been in contact with meat or meat products, you must not feed it to pigs.

Examples of foods that you must not feed to pigs:

  • all meat, meat scraps, meat trimmings
  • used cooking oil, unless it is treated to the required standard (see below)
  • offal (liver, kidney, brains, tongue, intestines)
  • blood, bones and carcasses from mammals
  • food scraps and waste from:
    • processors and manufacturers
    • food retailers (e.g. bakeries, supermarkets)
    • hotels, restaurants, cafés, fast food outlets, delicatessens, lunch bars
    • homes
    • rubbish dumps.

Which foods can be fed to pigs?

  • foods such as grains, fruits and vegetables, provided you know they have not been in contact with meat
  • foods that have been approved for feedings to pigs in Western Australia. These are:
    • commercially manufactured meat-meals and tallow produced according to the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Rendering of Animal Products (AS 5008:2007)
    • milk and milk products from Australia or imported into Australia for stock feed use
    • used cooking oil processed according to the National Standard for Recycling of Used Cooking Fats and Oils Intended for Animal Feeds and where the oil has only been used for cooking in Australia.

Responsibilities of pig owners and producers

You must not feed prohibited pig feed (swill) to pigs, or allow pigs to access it.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your pigs cannot access prohibited pig feed. You must dispose of food that contains meat or that has had contact with meat in a way that prevents pigs from accessing it. People found to have allowed pigs access to prohibited pig feed through compost piles, on-farm rubbish tips and home rubbish bins may be prosecuted.

To ensure you don’t accidentally feed your pigs prohibited pig feed or expose them to chemicals or contaminants, you should obtain a vendor declaration from your feed supplier/feed ingredient supplier. This documentation ensures you comply with the requirements of the Pig Pass National Vendor Declaration and the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program (APIQ).

If you source ingredients for pig feed such as meatmeal, tallow or used cooking oil, you must ensure these feed ingredients are processed to the approved standards for feeding to pigs.

Responsibilities of food businesses

You must not supply another person with food waste for feeding to pigs if the food waste contains meat or meat products or has had contact with meat or meat products. This means that a business owner who permits a farmer to collect food waste from their business for feeding to pigs could be prosecuted.

Protect your industry

To protect your industry, you are asked to report any suspicious feeding practices to your local Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) veterinary officer or livestock biosecurity officer - see the webpage Livestock Biosecurity contacts for your nearest office.

Also report unusual signs of ill-health or unexplained deaths in your livestock to your local veterinarian, local DPIRD veterinary officer or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline 1800 675 888.

Penalties and audits

The requirements outlined on this webpage are prescribed in the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Agriculture Standards) Regulations 2013. Copies of the regulations are available from www.slp.wa.gov.au

Under the regulations, people may be prosecuted and fined up to $5000 for:

  • feeding prohibited pig feed to pigs
  • allowing pigs to access prohibited pig feed
  • collecting and storing prohibited pig feed for feeding to pigs
  • supplying prohibited pig feed for feeding to pigs.

DPIRD conducts regular checks of pig producers to monitor feeding practices.

Contact information

Faheem Noor
+61 (0)8 9368 3459