14 March 2016

Clean bill of health for local produce

Western Australian consumers can enjoy eating locally grown fruit and vegetables without fear of chemical residue risks.

A new WA Health report has shown minimal risk from agricultural chemical residues on our local produce.

The report is based on a program that monitors local producers’ compliance with chemical residue limits set under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Monitoring is conducted with the assistance of environmental health officers at 57 local government authorities in Western Australia and industry bodies, who conduct sampling and investigation activities. Sampling from 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 was presented in the results.

WA Health Food Unit Manager Stan Goodchild said the program was important because it ensured chemical residue levels did not exceed maximum residue limits set under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

“Agricultural chemicals used in food production are safe for people and the environment when used and applied in accordance with approved label instructions,” Mr Goodchild said.

“The food monitoring program randomly tested fresh fruit and vegetable products produced statewide to ensure that either no residue was detected, or when residues were present that they did not exceed the safe maximum residue level.

“Between 2009 and 2015, 108,693 tests for more than 70 different chemicals were carried out on 1241 samples. Of the samples tested, 91.8 per cent were compliant.”

When a non-compliant sample was found, further investigation was conducted by local government environmental health officers and the relevant food businesses and growers were informed, enabling them to address the issue.

Of the 102 samples that did not comply, 71 were due to there being no maximum residue level and 48 for exceeding the maximum residue level set by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

“This is a particularly important program,” Mr Goodchild said.

“It allows the Department of Health to work with industry bodies and local governments to ensure the provision of safe fruit and vegetables for our consumers. It also allows education of growers and businesses whose samples did not comply to ensure the problem is immediately rectified.”

A copy of the Food Monitoring Program report is available on the WA Health website.

ENDS

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