Horse meat from the Northern Territory is being investigated as the cause of21 pet dog deaths in Victoria amid a worsening scandal which now includes upto 30 Melbourne retailers.

Victoria’s two regulators Agriculture Victoria and PrimeSafe, which were firsttipped off about the spate of dog deaths linked to pet food in easternVictoria a month ago, have revealed “horse meat is emerging as the focus ofthe investigation”.

Authorities also said the Maffra District Knackery in Gippsland, which hasbeen under investigation since early July, was the “source of indospicine,which caused the recent cluster of liver disease and dog deaths in Victoria”.

The knackery also trades as Backman’s Meats and Backman’s Greyhound Supplies,which has a store in Seaford in Melbourne’s south-east.

Agriculture Victoria issued a state-wide pet food warning on July 16 for“fresh and frozen raw meat sourced from Gippsland and sold between May 31 andJuly 3.”

On July 21, authorities identified indospicine as a toxin which killed thedogs.

It is from a tropical and sub-tropical native plant in the Indigoferaspecies, found predominantly in Northern Australia.

Dogs are especially sensitive to the toxin when they eat meat from animalswhich have grazed the plant, such as horses and camels.

On Friday, Maffra District Knackery co-owner Karen Backman admitted theyprocessed horses from the Northern Territory.

“On questioning one of our [buying] agents, we were told horses we hadpurchased had come from a station in the southern Northern Territory,” shesaid.

Most affected pet owners with dogs which have become sick or have died toldthe ABC they thought they were buying a beef product sourced from theknackery.

Ms Backman said it was “possible that small traces of every species of animalwe process are in our pet foods”, but stood by the integrity of their petfood.

Ms Backman said the company had never tested for the toxin as it was unknownto them.

“We have never heard of it or been informed of the toxin to be in grazinganimals. It came as a shock to us,” she said.

“We are dog lovers and feed our products to our dogs.”

She insisted that “all tests we perform, and our practices, are regulated”.

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Source: ABC News

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