What's happening with Australian dog food recalls? | Scratch

Not good enough

Another 21 dogs die from dodgy dog food.

We share how the industry operates and why dog food needs to be done better.

Ugh… it’s happened again.

Dogs have died because of dodgy dog food and Australia’s preventably bad pet food regulations (or lack thereof).

It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. A particularly scary 2017 incident involving one of the biggest dog food brands on our shelves saw the brand continue selling harmful food after being told numerous times it was making dogs morbidly sick. The brand in question were leaders of the ‘self-regulated’ PFIAA (Pet Food Industry Association Australia).

Eventually, the media attention forced the brand to take it off the shelves. No law required them to. So, a Senate inquiry was held into how the dog food industry worked and why dogs were continually getting sick or dying from crappy food.

At that point, we were busy starting Scratch – a few months away from launching – and wrote about their scathing report. 7 key recommendations on how to improve pet safety and transparency came out.

So, what happened to the Senate’s recommendations?

Nothing. Nada.
No one wants to pay for it.

3 years on and none of the 7 recommendations have been adopted.

State governments don’t want to be responsible for it. The Federal Government doesn’t either. And the 3 multinationals – who together hold most of the industry power (yup, they’re on the PFIAA board) and account for 90% of pet food sales – trot out a supportive line but don’t contribute any money towards change or take on any of the improvements themselves.

So, we end up with dodgy meat in dog food. Again.

Most of Australia’s dog food problems stem from no regulation. Brands don’t have to disclose how much of anything they use. Is it 10% lamb or 30% lamb in that food? Is that raw meat beef or is it camel or horse?

Guardian article

There’s no transparency, and with no transparency, brands can chop and change. And it happens, a lot. Ever wonder why your dog doesn’t like their food all of a sudden despite a brand saying that the recipe hasn’t changed? It’s because the ingredients do change. Sweet potato too expensive right now? Let’s just swap in tapioca starch. Good chicken harder to come by? Let’s just get the C grade stuff, or maybe some other type of meat.

The PFIAA’s own rules give brands 6 months until they have to let you know that they’ve changed the product.

If people knew what most dog food brands put into food, and how much of it, they wouldn’t dominate the shelves the way they do. Transparency keeps brands honest and enables dog owners to make educated decisions about what they feed their dogs. At the end of the day, dogs will live longer for it.

Where does most dog food meat come from?

Dog food meat can come from three places:

  1. Knackeries – A pet meat processing facility that slaughters horses, donkeys and other animals not intended for human consumption. They often handle diseased, dead and euthanised animals which pose a higher risk to dog health.
  2. Pet food grade abattoirs – much lower standards than human-grade abattoirs.
  3. Human grade abattoirs – higher sourcing and safety standards so that humans don’t get sick. Your meat at the supermarket comes from here. So does the meat in Scratch.

What about this case?

Unfortunately, the meat causing this month’s deaths was horse meat that contained a toxin from a type of plant that causes liver failure in dogs.

Most of the ‘meat’ used in store-bought dog food comes from pet food abattoirs like Maffa District Knackery. That’s a completely different source and supply chain to what you’re buying in the supermarket or from the butcher.

Alright, now we’ve got that off our chest…

There’s a better way of doing dog food. Lord knows there were enough brands around when we started Scratch, but nothing we could trust. So we started our own. Scratch is leading the way with healthier and more ethical dog food:

  1. We’re the first dog food in Australia to reveal the exact percentages of our ingredients.
  2. We use real names for ingredients. No confusing jargon and no marketing lingo like “chicken gravy” or “beef casseroles”. When we say “lamb” we just mean lamb.
  3. We don’t change our recipes on the sly. Dog food brands often lower the quality of food without telling you, so we publish changelogs of any changes ever made to our recipes so we’re always accountable.
  4. We only use sustainably sourced Australian meat with no added hormones.
  5. We choose meats that are pasture-raised and not factory farmed so the animals have a higher standard of living and end of life practices.
  6. We are honest about these hard topics, such as meat consumption. We will always be upfront about the reality of what it means to eat meat products and won’t shy away from having a conversation or consider something we might not have thought of.
  7. We make sure we hire honest, thoughtful and diverse humans that LOVE dogs, with our bias-reducing process.
  8. There is no planet B. We only use 100% recyclable packaging. We are working to become a B Corp. And we make our food on subscription so there is no food waste.

Oh, and we only source our meat from human-grade abattoirs using species-specific meat. Our meat comes from the same places you buy yours, and we know our suppliers and what we’re getting.

– Mike
Scratch Co-Founder

Mike with dog

Store-bought kibble

Scratch Dog Food
Dog Food Bag
Scratch dog food box
  • Mostly powdered stuff from overseas
  • 'Meat' that changes batch to batch
  • 95% owned by big multinationals
  • Unregulated & with misleading labelling
  • Made in bulk, marked up by nearly 50%
  • Good luck getting quick service
  • 🥕 Whole Aussie produce
  • 🥩 Premium Aussie meat (& more of it)
  • 🇦🇺 100% independent & Australian-owned
  • 📦 Fully transparent labelling
  • 🐶 Fresher food, direct for your dogs
  • 💬 You're talking to the people who make it
A bowl with kibble

Scratch arrives so much fresher

Stores discount so often because most kibble is made for efficiency. We changed how dog food is done, focusing on quality first.

Turkey, Beef & Lamb

From $83 PER 8kg

Our most popular option for dogs of all ages - even large breed pups.

Sensitive Kangaroo

From $94 PER 8kg

For any woofer that can't seem to shake tummy, skin or joint issues.

Pasture-raised Lamb

From $92 PER 8kg

Clean, mean recipe full of hypoallergenic lamb and some nutritious ancient whole-grains. Great for very active dogs.

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