Food monitoring programs

As part of Government and industry efforts to safeguard agriculture produce within Western Australia, the Department of Health monitors chemical residues in fresh fruit and vegetables as part of various other food surveys conducted under the Western Australian Food Monitoring Program.

Agricultural chemicals are used in food production to control insect pests, fungal diseases and weeds. Whilst the use of these chemicals can control pests and disease, they should also be safe for people and the environment. With over 10,000 agricultural and veterinary products registered for use in Australia, managing the safe use of these chemicals and the sale of safe and suitable food involves a number of different government agencies and legislation.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is the statutory authority responsible for the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals up to the point of retail sale. The APVMA has responsibility for determining, through a detailed assessment process, that a chemical is safe to users, consumers, the environment and trade before it is registered for use within Australia. The maximum residue limits (MRL) are set under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Instrument No. 4  (MRL Standard) 2012 and are listed under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code).

Standard 1.4.2 – Maximum Residue Limits (external site) of the Food Stanards Code details the maximum permissible limits for agricultural and veterinary chemical residues present in food. If a maximum residue limit for an agricultural or veterinary (agvet) chemical is not listed in Standard 1.4.2, there must be no detectable residues of that chemical present in food.

The report on Monitoring Agricultural Chemical Residue Levels in Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (PDF 760KB) provides a summary of results of surveys conducted in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. The purpose and scope of testing was to:

  • monitor the level of agricultural chemical residues on fresh fruit and vegetables available for sale in the market for compliance with the maximum residue limits (MRLs) prescribed under Standard 1.4.2 – Maximum Residue Limits of the Food Standards Code. 
  • notify the appropriate enforcement agencies where test results were non-compliant with the Food Standards Code
  • use the survey findings to inform future compliance programs.

Please note that the report on Monitoring Agricultural Chemical Residue Levels in Fresh Fruit and Vegetables is completely independent from the National Residue Survey annual report conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Care should be taken when comparing the two reports as they are both based on independent aims and objectives.

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