24 Aug 2012

Govt narrows spray residue tests on food

11:25 pm on 24 August 2012

Government officials say they plan to merge two food quality testing programmes, which monitor chemical residues in locally-produced and imported fruit and vegetables.

Ministry for Primary Industries chemical assurance manager Mike Clear says the new domestic food assurance programme will look at the overall status of food available on the domestic market, with tests carried out to check for specific microbiological and chemical hazards.

Rates of compliance in the separate surveys of recent years had improved to the point where a more efficient and effective programme could be introduced to simply target areas of higher risk, rather than looking at all foods.

"Some foods from overseas will be targeted ... (it) depends what their risk profile is," says Mr Clear.

"Certainly foods on which new agricultural compounds have been introduced or registered for use will also be targeted."

Some countries could have higher application rates of specific chemicals for a particular pest, but higher maximum residue levels might not be relevant for a country where that pest was not present.