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Australian Ruminant Feed Ban

Animal Health Australia (AHA) coordinates the ruminant feed ban as part of Australia’s commitment to retain its TSE free status.

Australia has an inclusive ban on the feeding to all ruminants of all meals, including meat and bone meal (MBM), derived from all vertebrates, including fish and birds.

How it works

The current ruminant feed ban was established by statutory laws in each of Australia’s jurisdictions and enforced by official inspections and audits, which also take into account quality assurance schemes that operate within Australia’s ruminant livestock industries. This acts as a fail-safe control measure to rule out the possibility that feeding will amplify the BSE agent in the unlikely event that it is introduced to Australia.

Australia adopted a voluntary ban on the feeding of ruminant material to ruminants in 1996 to minimise the risk of recycling the BSE agent if it were introduced. This was a preliminary step towards laws to prohibit the feeding of ruminant material to ruminants, which were enacted in all of Australia’s jurisdictions in 1997.

In 1999, the prohibition was extended to the feeding of specified mammalian materials to ruminants.

In March 2001, agricultural ministers agreed to introduce uniform legislation in all Australian states and territories to extend this prohibition to include a ban on the feeding of meals containing ‘only porcine, equine, or macropod materials; blood and blood products; inspected meat products (that have been cooked and offered for human food and further heat processed into animal food); poultry (offal and feather) meals; and fish meals’.

All states and territories have now adopted in their respective legislation the term ‘restricted animal material’ (RAM) to describe animal meals that cannot be fed to ruminants, being any meal derived from vertebrate animal origin, including fish and birds.


Restricted animal material (RAM) is defined as any material taken from a vertebrate animal other than tallow, gelatin, milk products or oils. It includes rendered products, such as blood meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal, fish meal, poultry meal and feather meal, and compounded feeds made from these products.

Tallow and oils are defined as ‘any product (not limiting to but including products known as tallow, yellow grease and acid oil), containing rendered fats and oils from any animal, or used cooking oil filtered or otherwise treated to remove visible particulate matter, and which complies with a specification of 2% maximum M+I (moisture plus insoluble impurities) as measured by American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) official methods’[1].

Note: Eggs are considered RAM and must not be fed to ruminants.

A national approach

To ensure Australia has effective feed ban control measures, the Agricultural and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ) meeting in 2001 agreed that audits be undertaken by all jurisdictions to verify compliance with feed ban legislation by all parties from manufacture to end-use. Prior to these jurisdictional audits, four national audits of the ruminant feed ban were conducted in Australia.

A uniform national approach to compliance inspection and auditing provides the greatest assurance of compliance with both regulatory controls and with national and international requirements.

Australia’s enforceable bans on the feeding of RAM to ruminant animals are part of a comprehensive national TSE Freedom Assurance Program.

The ruminant feed ban is supported by the following mechanisms:

  • Quarantine measures to prevent entry into the country of the BSE agent. Since 1966, the importation of animal-derived meat and bone meal (MBM) into Australia has been prohibited from all countries other than New Zealand, which is also free of animal TSEs.
  • A comprehensive, risk-based compliance inspection program undertaken by state and territory authorities that targets all sectors in the livestock feed chain from renderers to stockfeed manufacturers, stockfeed resellers and end-users. The program is modified in light of non-conformities identified and corrective actions that have been implemented.
  • Various quality management and assurance measures implemented by the ruminant livestock and stockfeed manufacturing industries in Australia to complement the official regulatory and compliance inspection program.
  • Education and training programs to create awareness and develop the necessary competencies and capacity regarding the legislative rules on animal feed and TSEs. Training and education of relevant groups such as farmers, renderers, stockfeed manufacturers, stockfeed resellers and statutory bodies is ongoing.

These activities constitute Australia’s effective ruminant feed ban, as part of its control measures to prevent the entry and establishment of the BSE agent in this country.

Communication with the general public

AHA published a series of pamphlets about Australia’s commitment to the ruminant feed ban. The pamphlets target the main three groups involved in the use of restricted animal material:

AHA also developed a Ruminant Feed Ban Checklist (pdf - 72 KB) to record any internal reviews they may undertake of their quality or food safety system (i.e. LPA, NFAS).

Import controls

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for:

  • developing and reviewing biosecurity policies for the safe importation of animals and animal products
  • providing quarantine inspection services for international passengers, cargo, mail, and animals and plants or their products arriving in Australia.

The importation into Australia of stockfeed derived from animal material, other than fishmeal, is currently only permitted from New Zealand.

Policy about importing stockfeed and stockfeed ingredients is available on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website

National guidelines

Animal Health Committee (AHC – formerly Veterinary Committee) agreed in October 2001 to establish a working group to develop national inspection guidelines for determining compliance with Australia’s ruminant feed ban.

The working group developed national guidelines for inspection of establishments that take into account quarantine controls on imported stockfeeds and industry QA systems. The guidelines were adopted by Veterinary Committee in October 2002 as the First Edition of the National uniform guidelines for ensuring compliance (with the Australian Ruminant Feed Ban) through inspection/sampling and testing programs (generally referred to as the National Uniform Guidelines) and implemented as a program of regular, scheduled jurisdictional inspections from 2003.

The guidelines provide a basis for each state and territory to participate in a nationally consistent program of inspection for compliance with the legislative provisions of their respective ruminant feed bans. Such a nationally consistent compliance inspection program in concert with other programs, including quarantine import control measures and industry QA systems contribute in a meaningful way to Australia maintaining an effective feed-ban. The guideline document is a comprehensive document that also provides detailed history and objectives of Australia’s ruminant feed ban.

A new working group was formed under TSEFAP to review the National Uniform Guidelines with the aim of increasing the consistency of approach to ruminant feed ban compliance and reporting activities in the states and territories. Changes to the required levels of inspection and sampling were developed by the group and are incorporated into this. These were endorsed by AHC in October 2004, and were implemented before the end of that year. The guidelines are reviewed by the National Technical Committee annually.

ARFB National Uniform Guidelines 2017-18 (pdf 1.8mB)

Legislation and QA framework

The ruminant feed ban is enshrined in legislation in each of Australia’s eight states and territories and underpinned by third party audited, industry-based quality assurance programs. The legislation and quality assurance programs cover all facets of the extended industry, from on-farm to the rendering of material and the importation of stock feeds.

Table 1: Summary of Australian state and territory legislation regulating the Australian ruminant feed ban.

State or territory Name of legislation Areas covered
New South Wales Biosecurity Act 2015

Biosecurity Regulation 2017

Labelling and RAM content

Feeding Prohibition

Victoria Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 (Vic.)

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 (Vic.)

Associated Regulations and Orders

Feeding Prohibition


Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014 (Qld)

Biosecurity Regulation 2016 (Qld)

Prohibitions on feeding or supplying RAM

RAM statements

South Australia Livestock Act 1997 (SA)

Livestock Regulations 1998 (SA)

Labelling and Standards; feeding prohibition

Labelling and Standards; feeding prohibition

Western Australia Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (WA)

Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Agriculture Standards) Regulations 2013 (WA)

Labelling and feeding prohibition standards
Tasmania Animal Health Act 1995 (Tas.)

Animal Health Regulations 2006 (Tas.)

Labelling and feeding prohibition
Australian Capital Territory Animal Diseases Act 2005 (ACT) Labelling and feeding prohibition
Northern Territory Livestock Regulations 1 September 2009 (NT) Labelling and feeding prohibition

Standards for rendered products

It is mandatory in Australia for rendered animal proteins to be produced in accordance with the Australian Standard for Hygienic Rendering of Animal Products. The standard requires that all rendering plants implement ISO 9000 aligned quality management systems and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans and the labelling of rendered products in accordance with legal requirements.

Feedsafe QA program for stockfeed manufacturers

Through the Stock Feed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia (SFMCA), industry has implemented FeedSafe as a HACCP-based QA program on an individual site basis.

To achieve FeedSafe accreditation, feed manufacturing sites are required to address the elements of the Code of Good Manufacturing Practice for the Feed Milling Industry, particularly methods to ensure effective cleaning, flushing and sequencing between different types of stockfeeds to minimise the possibility of cross-contamination. FeedSafe uses independent third party site audits to verify compliance with the Code.

Livestock QA programs

Livestock-based quality assurance programs that bring together the legislation and practical approach to the feeding of stock include:

These quality assurance programs are both ISO9000 and HACCP based. Each program links the legislation to the action being implemented at the farm or feedlot.

Another scheme that includes the requirements of the ruminant feed ban is National Vendor Declarations for the movement of cattle, sheep and goats to sale yards, processors or between properties.


The Australian Government, in collaboration with state and territory agencies, conducted a number of national audits on farms, feedlots, rendering establishments, stockfeed manufacturers and stockfeed resellers between 1998 and 2001.

Since 2003, national audits were superseded by a program of audits contained in the national guidelines, and a specific number of audits is scheduled well into the future (Table 2).

Table 2: Audit frequency for renderer and stockfeed manufacturer establishments

Establishment type Non-QA QA
Renderers 12 months None
Monogastric feeds only (containing RAM) 24 months 48 months
Non-RAM feeds only (whether ruminant or monogastric or both) 24 months 48 months
Monogastric (containing RAM) & ruminant feeds in separate lines 24 months 48 months
Monogastric (containing RAM) & ruminant feeds in same lines 12 months 24 months

In addition, 300 stockfeed retailers and 300 farms are audited every 2 years, with the number of audits being distributed between Australia’s states and territories based on their cattle populations.

The results of these audits have shown that there is an extremely high level of compliance with Australia’s ruminant feed ban. Instances of non-compliance invariably relate to minor matters, such as labelling.


[1]AOCS official methods for determining M+I are described at the following website, and full details can be purchased here: The relevant tests are for ‘moisture and volatile matter; hot plate method’ and ‘insoluble impurities’ and are conducted sequentially, with the results of the two tests being added to obtain the total M+I. NATA laboratory accreditation for conducting these tests is available in Australia.


Page reviewed: 15/10/2019