What Is the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA)?
Spoiler alert: yes, that’s true.
However, that doesn't mean there aren’t organisations trying to advocate for tighter regulations and higher standards. And yes, there is a Pet Food Industry Association of Australia.
What is this association exactly and what does it do? Let’s talk about it.
So What is the PFIAA?
The Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) is a national industry association representing the Australian pet food manufacturing industry. It was formed way back in 1972.
The primary goal of the PFIAA is to ensure the production of safe, nutritious, and high quality pet food for Australian pets. They work closely with regulatory bodies, government agencies, and other stakeholders to establish and maintain industry standards, guidelines, and best practices. This includes aspects such as product safety, quality control, labelling, and compliance with relevant regulations.
Note that the PFIAA is dedicated to promoting and advancing the interests of the pet food industry in Australia. However, they do seem to know that the only right way to keep all the involved parties happy is by promoting quality pet food.
The PFIAA also serves as a resource for its members by providing information, networking opportunities, and promoting collaboration within the industry. They actively engage with government bodies on issues affecting the pet food industry and advocate for policies that support the industry's growth and sustainability.
Finally, the PFIAA promotes consumer education and awareness about pet nutrition, responsible pet ownership, and the importance of choosing safe and appropriate pet food products.
Does PFIAA Regulate Pet Food in Australia?
Well, yes and no. At the moment, PFIAA does encourage its members to follow the Australian Standard for Manufacturing and marketing of pet food (AS5812-2017), but this is not a requirement for manufacturers who want to get pet food on the shelves.
“Pet food companies can opt to become voluntary members of the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) which means they must follow a set of Australian manufacturing standards – however it’s very important to remember that this is NOT enforced so if a company does not join PFIAA, there’s no obligation for them to follow the standards. And while it is admirable if the company is a member, it isn’t a legal requirement to be a member.” - Jessica, Nutrition RVN (1)
In short, PFIAA is not a regulatory body, although it has had a role in formulating the voluntary pet food standard AS5812. However, it is the closest thing to a regulatory body we have in Australia.
Sounds disappointing? That’s because it is. However, there have been some attempts in recent years to bring more mandatory regulations and effective consumer protection mechanisms to the Australian market (2). And there seems there is a consensus that things need to change:
“Consumers want regulation. Animal welfare groups want regulation. PFIAA members want regulation. The PFIAA believes it is time all state and territory governments agree to a model of regulation that delivers the regulatory oversight expected by consumers but is currently missing in Australia. We believe the whole industry would benefit from regulation, even those pet food businesses which are not members.” - Carolyn Macgill, Executive Manager of PFIAA, Pet News (3)
What Does It Mean to be a PFIAA Member?
The PFIAA seems to have a few different types of memberships. You can go on their website and easily see who is a member and what kind of membership with the PFIAA the company has.
What should interest you most, as a consumer, are the “Certified Manufacturing Members”. According to the PFIAA website, those are the members that produce their pet food in Australia and are certified by a third party to meet the Australian Standard AS5812 mentioned above.
To get the certification, pet food manufacturers are audited every year by PFIAA partner Aus-Meat for compliance with AS5812. That sounds good, but remember, not every pet food manufacturer in Australia needs to go through that. They first need to decide to become a member of the PFIAA, pay for the membership and voluntarily subject themselves to audits.
What Does the PFIAA Standard Cover?
The Australian Standard AS5812 is actually not exclusive to or created by the PFIAA (although the PFIAA did participate in the creation of the standard). However, the PFIAA is the sole organisation that certifies its members for adherence to the standard.
Related: What Are Animal By-Products In Dog Food?
The standard covers the whole production cycle of pet foods. It starts with manufacturing best practices, including product tracing and recall, and continues to cover important aspects of labelling, marketing, and nutrition in dog food. When it comes to nutritional standards, there is no separate Australian guideline. Instead, the standard refers to the AAFCO guideline or another international nutritional publication.
In short, PFIAA is an industry body whose main role is to represent the industry stakeholders in communication with the government as well as the consumers. The main self-proclaimed goal of the PFIAA is to establish higher standards when it comes to quality control and regulations of pet food.
Since there are still no regulatory mechanisms established by the Australian government to control dog food manufacturing, the PFIAA basically acts as a regulator, but participation is voluntary.
- Jessica. January 26, 2022. “Pet food regulation in Australia”. Nutrition RVN. Retrieved June 15, 2023. https://nutritionrvn.com/2022/01/26/pet-food-regulation-in-australia/
- Kollmorgen, A. September 16, 2021. “Pet owners across Australia call for mandatory pet food safety regulations”. Choice. Retrieved June 15, 2023. https://www.choice.com.au/outdoor/pets/products/articles/pet-food-regulation-supporter-responses
- Oakley-Newell, T. January 16, 2023. “Regulation is key in ensuring pet food safety”. Pet News. Retrieved June 15, 2022. https://petnews.com.au/regulation-is-key-in-ensuring-pet-food-safety/