Ruminant feed ban overview

Feeding cattle animal meals contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been the main cause of BSE outbreaks overseas.

Since 1997, Australia has had a ruminant feed ban to:

  • prevent the potential spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) in Australia
  • ensure that our meat and meat products continue to have access to domestic and international markets.

What are ruminants?

Ruminants include:

  • cattle
  • sheep
  • goats
  • deer
  • alpacas
  • llamas
  • bison
  • buffalo
  • chamois
  • antelopes
  • giraffes
  • camels.

The ruminant feed ban:

  • bans the feeding of restricted animal material (RAM) to ruminants
  • requires people who sell or supply animal feed to indicate on the feed container or accompanying notice (e.g. invoice or delivery docket) that the feed does or does not contain RAM.

TSEs are not known to occur in Australia. However, if a TSE were to enter the country, the ruminant feed ban would be an important measure in preventing its spread.

What is restricted animal material (RAM)?

RAM must not be feed to ruminants and is material that:

  • contains or may contain the carcass of a vertebrate animal
  • contains or may contain material derived from a vertebrate animal (including eggs, blood, faeces)
  • has been in contact with either of these (including food or food scraps from a restaurant, hotel or home that may have been in contact with meat or other material derived from a vertebrate animal).

Banned RAM feeds include rendered products such as:

  • meat and bone meal
  • blood meal
  • fish meal
  • poultry meal
  • feather meal
  • compounded feeds made from these products.

However, there are some permitted exceptions. Animal materials that are not RAM and can legally be fed to ruminants are as follows:

Animal feed that is sold or supplied must have a positive or negative RAM statement that indicates whether the feed does or does not contain RAM.

It is illegal to:

  • feed RAM, including animal meals, to ruminants
  • possess RAM, or animal feed containing RAM, for the purpose of feeding it to ruminants
  • allow or fail to take reasonable measures to prevent ruminants having access to RAM or animal feed containing RAM (this includes preventing ruminants from having access to organic fertilisers until these fertilisers have been incorporated into pasture)
  • give to a ruminant animal feed that has a positive RAM statement applied to it or accompanying it.

Penalties apply to anyone who breaks these laws.

Animal feed containing RAM produced by rendering in accordance with the Australian standard for the hygienic rendering of animal products can be fed to pigs and poultry because these animals are not ruminants.

Queensland Ruminant Feed Ban Surveillance Program

Compliance with the requirements of the ruminant feed ban is monitored under the Queensland Ruminant Feed Ban Surveillance Program.

Biosecurity Queensland inspectors regularly inspect the premises of renderers, stock feed manufacturers, retailers and owners to monitor compliance with the ruminant feed ban.

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