DAFF Response to Government on Notice Irradiation of Food/ Pet Food
(Original was scanned into pdf file so copy-typed below for posting on forums.)
Dear Ms C……
Thank you for your correspondence of 16 January 2009 to the Hon. Tony Burke MP, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry about the gamma irradiation of pet food. Minister Burke has asked me as Executive Manager, Quarantine Operations Division of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) to reply on his behalf. I apologise for the delay in replying.
Australia is free of a number of animal diseases, such as foot and mouth disease, which have had major economic and environmental consequences for other countries, AQIS operates border quarantine activities with the aim of maintaining Australia’s favourable animal and plant health status.
Importers pet food products present a high risk as they may contain animal disease agents or pests that are exotic to Australia. To manage the risks posed by imported pet food, and a range of other products, AQIS is required under the Quarantine Act 1908 to regulate imports through a permit system.
Applications for import permits undergo a rigorous risk assessment by AQIS to evaluate potential quarantine risks and where such risks are identified, AQIS applies specific import conditions to manage these risks. In the case of imported pet food, heat treatment applied during manufacture is sufficient to inactivate exotic disease agents. In some instances, where the manufacturer’s processing is insufficient to meet standard heat treatment requirements, import permit applicants are offered further heat treatment of gamma radiation as a treatment option . AQIS does not compel the irradiation of imported pet food.
AQIS is required under the Quarantine Act to advise importers where it is believed that a treatment may affect quality of the imported product. To this end, AQIS advises all relevant import applicants to contact the treatment provider to obtain information on the effect any such treatment may have on their product. AQIS advised the importers of Orijen cat food in 2007 that they should seek advice on the possible effects if irradiation on their product, and only issued the import permit after the importer confirmed that they wished to proceed with irradiation.
Thank you for the information provided in your correspondence regarding the potential health impact of feeding of irradiated dry pet food in cats. AQIS’ powers to do not include the regulation of pet food safety. However, AQIS and Biosecurity Australia (BA) have considered this new information together with other scientific data and AQIS will be contacting import permit holders of pet foods to advise them of the findings of these studies.
The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) under which AQIS currently operates, has also liaised with the Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) during the development of a voluntary industry Code of Practice for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food. DAFF understands that this Code is intended to protect pets and consumers by controlling potential hazards to animal health that might be associated with pet food
Thank you again for bringing your concerns to my attention. I trust this information is of assistance.
If you have any further queries relating to this matter, please direct them to Dr Dennis Bittisnich, Manager, Biological imports program AQIS, who can be contacted on (02) 6272 3053 or be e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Quarantine Operations Division
AQISPLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS RESTRICTED MATERIAL AND MAY NOT BE CROSS-POSTED (SEE BELOW)
This was the footnote on the covering email (standard Govt statement)
IMPORTANT - This message has been issued by The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). The information transmitted is for the use of the intended recipient only and may contain sensitive and/or legally privileged material. It is your responsibility to check any attachments for viruses and defects before opening or sending them on.
Any reproduction, publication, communication, re-transmission, disclosure, dissemination or other use of the information contained in this e-mail by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. The taking of any action in reliance upon this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error please notify the sender and delete all copies of this transmission together with any attachments. If you have received this e-mail as part of a valid mailing list and no longer want to receive a message such as this one advise the sender by return e-mail accordingly. Only e-mail correspondence which includes this footer, has been authorised by DAFF
Given that this is what my letter requested:
By this letter addressed to the Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry and copied to AQIS I am requesting:
1) That a full review be carried out, without delay, of the regulations governing gamma irradiation applied to ALL foods, including pet food and animal feedstuffs released onto the Australian market whether imported or Australian grown/manufactured, on the premise that if it can do this to our animals, it could also do this to us and our children.
2) That a review of ALL available data regarding the safety of this procedure, not just studies that support the status quo, be carried out without delay.
3) That these reviews be carried out by an independent body of food scientists, nutritionists, toxicologists and appropriately informed representatives of consumer groups rather than by members of food corporations or the nuclear industry both of whom have vested interests in the outcome.
4) That the legislation, which currently does not require clear and prominent labelling of certain foods as “IRRADIATED” when they have been thus treated, be immediately amended with fast passage through Federal Parliament so that it becomes mandatory, as soon as possible, for ALL irradiated human and animal foodstuffs in Australia including individual supermarket fruit and vegetable items held in lengthy storage to be labelled “IRRADIATED” together with full disclosure of the levels of radiation used.
5) That this labelling requirement be maintained in perpetuity in the Australian marketplace regardless of what Codex Alimentarius wants to have happen worldwide eventually.
Australian consumers deserve to be recognised as intelligent people with the right to make their own decisions with regard to whether they choose to eat or feed their children and pets irradiated, genetically-modified or nanotech-engineered food rather than having it foisted upon them with neither their knowledge nor consent. I firmly believe that all such unnatural processes carried out on foods whether in their country of origin or upon import to Australia should be clearly identified by prominent and unequivocal labelling. UNQUOTE
I feel the reply has fallen somewhat short of addressing these requests. Not to mention the preceding 7 pages of information vigorously challenging the AQIS 23 Dec Notice to Industry declaring irradiation of food/pet foods to be safe.http://www.daff.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/938949/33-08-09.pdf
I invite your comments.