PrimeSafe and Agriculture Victoria issued the following statement on 17 August 2021:
PrimeSafe and Agriculture Victoria have closed the joint investigation that found that the natural toxin indospicine was the cause of a recent cluster of dog liver disease and deaths in Victorian dogs.
Test results confirmed pet meat processed at the Maffra District Knackery between May 31 and July 3 contained indospicine. Dogs are especially sensitive to the toxic effect of indospicine in meat from livestock that have grazed the Indigofera plant. Horses from the Northern Territory where the Indigofera plant is known to grow are considered the most likely source of the contaminated meat.
Agriculture Victoria found that indospicine toxicity is consistent with the illness seen in the dogs and other possible causes of the illness have been ruled out. Testing found indospicine in the blood and liver of affected dogs and in pet meat samples eaten by the dogs.
Voluntary withdrawals and consumer level recalls are considered to have removed indospicine contaminated pet meat from the supply chain, however, the affected products may still be in storage in pet owner’s freezers.
Dog owners are reminded that they should not feed their pet any fresh or frozen raw pet meat sourced from Maffra District Knackery between 31 May and 3 July. All kinds of pet meat fitting that description, including products described as beef and kangaroo pet meat, should be considered at risk of indospicine contamination, due to the blending of pet meats during processing. Neither cooking nor freezing will destroy the toxin that remains in the pet meat. Please contact your supplier to confirm the source of your pet meat.
Indospicine can build up slowly when affected meat is consumed regularly by dogs. It can then reach levels sufficient to cause toxicity, so if your dog has been fed pet meat matching the description above and they have not become unwell, please do not assume your pet meat is safe. Unfortunately, there may continue to be some cases of illness and death caused by Indoscpicine associated liver disease in coming weeks.
Signs of liver disease include sudden loss of appetite, lethargy or jaundice in a previously health animal. Pet owners should contact their private veterinarian immediately for assessment and treatment if their dog is sick.
Sufficient testing has been undertaken to establish the cause of the illness in the dogs. Indospicine testing is available in Queensland and veterinarians can contact their regular laboratory service to arrange sample submission and confirm fee-for-service arrangements on behalf of their clients.
If vets need further advice, they can contact Agriculture Victoria District Veterinary Officers or call the Customer Contact Centre on 136 186.
PrimeSafe is currently working with industry and the businesses involved to develop guidance to minimise the risk of future indospicine contamination incidents.
This investigation was complex and required the co-operation of multiple agencies and laboratories across Australia. Agriculture Victoria and PrimeSafe thank those dog owners and their veterinarians and the dedicated scientists who have assisted. We acknowledge this has been a difficult experience for companies and business that were affected by the situation. All statements made are in the public interest to protect the welfare of dogs involved in this event.
Information and results from the investigation can be found on the Agriculture Victoria website: agriculture.vic.gov.au/biosecurity/animal-diseases/general-livestock-diseases/indospicine-toxicity-in-dogs
If you have information about the illegal processing or sale of pet meat please provide this information to PrimeSafe at www.primesafe.vic.gov.au/contact-us/complaints
PrimeSafe – Susan McNair, 0439 389 202 or [email protected]
Agriculture Victoria – Emma Mackenzie, 0413 919 094 or [email protected]