Laws against supplying and feeding swill to pigs

Swill may contain viruses that cause serious diseases that can be passed on to pigs that are fed swill. For this reason, swill must not be fed to pigs.

What is swill?

Swill is material that:

  • contains, or may contain, the carcass of a mammal or bird
  • contains, or may contain, material derived from a mammal or bird (including meat, 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 meat products or other material derived from a mammal or bird).

Some exceptions are permitted. Animal materials that are not swill and can legally be fed to pigs are:

Legislation in all Australian states and territories, including Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014 (PDF, 2MB), outlaws feeding swill to pigs. This applies to all pigs, including pet pigs and pigs owned by hobby farmers. Penalties for swill feeding include fines and imprisonment.

This mini-guide for pig owners and food outlets explains what you can and can't feed to pigs.

Food that must not be fed to pigs

Food waste from various sources could contain swill. Household, commercial or industrial waste (including restaurant food, butcher shop waste and bakery waste) could contain banned items.

For example, none of these foods can be fed to pigs:

  • table scraps
  • meat pies
  • sausage rolls
  • bacon and cheese rolls
  • Caesar salad with bacon pieces
  • deli meats
  • milk or milk products not of Australian origin
  • untreated used cooking oils and fats
  • anything that has been in contact with swill through collection, storage or transport in contaminated containers (such as meat trays or takeaway food containers).

Food that can be fed to pigs

Legally, you can feed pigs:

  • milk or milk products of Australian origin or legally imported into Australia for stockfeed use
  • bakery or vegetable scraps that do not contain, and have had no contact with, meat or meat products
  • fruit, vegetables, cereals and eggs
  • meals made from meat, blood or bone that have been purchased from a reputable produce store or feed merchant (look for feed produced by an accredited feed supplier under a quality assurance program such as FeedSafe®)
  • rendered animal fat and treated cooking oils in accordance with Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014 (PDF, 2MB).

If in doubt, only feed your pigs commercially available pig feed.

Risks of swill feeding

Swill can contain a range of harmful viruses, including FMD. The FMD virus can remain in food even after chilling, freezing or inadequate cooking.

FMD is a serious, highly contagious disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals, including:

  • livestock such as cattle, pigs, sheep and goats
  • deer
  • camelids such as alpacas, llamas and camels.

Swill feeding is believed to have caused the devastating 2001 outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom, where more than 6 million animals were destroyed in eradicating the disease.

Australia is currently free from FMD, but the disease is present in some nearby countries. The most likely way for the virus to enter Australia would be through illegally imported meat and dairy products.

FMD can cause major production losses and trade impacts. A recent study (PDF, 1.3MB) estimated that a large, multi-state FMD outbreak could cost Australia more than $52 billion in lost revenue over 10 years.

Swill can also contain other significant viruses not currently found in Australia.

Learn more about the dangers of swill feeding in this short FMD video.

Transcript of video

Responsible disposal of food waste

Businesses that prepare and sell food have a responsibility to dispose of food waste safely.

Food waste that would be considered swill should be placed in an appropriate waste bin for collection and disposal.

Learn more about responsible disposal of food waste in this short FMD video.

Transcript of video

Reporting swill feeding or possible foot-and-mouth disease

Contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 if you suspect that:

  • swill is being supplied to pig owners
  • pigs are being fed swill
  • your pigs are showing any clinical signs of FMD.

Suspected cases of FMD can also be reported to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.