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Are Australian fruit and vegetables safe to eat?

26 March 2010

Yes, Australian fruit and vegetables are among the safest in the world to eat. We have an extensive residue testing system in Australia involving local, state and Commonwealth regulators. This system is supplemented by wide ranging quality assurance testing undertaken by commodity groups and supermarket chains. Of the tens of thousands of tests done annually, there are very few detections. There is greater than 99% compliance with standards.

More detail

Australia has a rigorous food safety program that ensures Australia’s food is safe to eat and free from harmful levels of pesticides:

  • The Office of Chemical Safety and Environmental Health (external site) (OCSEH) establishes public health standards for pesticides, including how much of a chemical a human can safely consume over a lifetime.
  • The APVMA sets maximum residue limits (MRLs), the legal limit on the amount of pesticide residue that can remain on food offered for sale. MRLs are set well below the public health standard.
  • The APVMA only registers agricultural chemicals if the residue levels remaining on fruit and vegetables lead to dietary intakes below the public health standards.
  • Random, targeted and compliance monitoring of fresh produce is undertaken to ensure the MRL set by the APVMA is not exceeded. This includes:
    • the National Residues Survey undertaken by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
    • on-farm testing programs, undertaken by commodity groups
    • state and territory government residue testing
    • supermarket testing
    • the Australian Total Diet Study undertaken by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Produce found to exceed MRLs is not allowed to be sold to the Australian public. State and territory authorities conduct regular checks of spray records, as well as tracking back any residue violations to the grower. Penalties may be applied in some states.

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