The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) has reported that results from the first part of a new pilot programme, the Food Residue Surveillance Programme (FRSP), showed that foods were generally far cleaner compared to international standards. The study is part of an ongoing programme to assess the effectiveness of current controls of chemical residues on imported and locally-produced foods.
The claims from the New Zealand authorities coincide with reports from the Australian Ministry for Environment and Heritage, which claim that a series of 12 technical reports released at the end of May, show levels of dioxins in Australian meat and dairy produce are also amongst the lowest in the world.
Both New Zealand and Australia benefit from relatively low population density and as a consequence industrial pollution is extremely low, a factor that reflects favourably on both the countries arable produce, and, in turn, the processed foods produced in both countries.
Dr Andrew McKenzie, NZFSA executive director said: "Of the analyses being done as part of this pilot, the first multi-residue screen has been completed, with other investigations to follow over the next few months.
"We looked for residues from 195 pesticides in lettuce, potato, tomato, broccoli, grapes and wine, completing 33,441 analyses in all. Just three had residues above the Maximum Residue Level (MRL). Two were slightly above the MRL, and one significantly. Only 88 of the samples tested, or 0.3 per cent, had any residues at all. As analytical science evolves and allows us to detect ever smaller amounts of residue, we are becoming more even more certain that our food supply is exemplary.
"We noted that the last set of results we released indicated 99.9934 per cent of results met or bettered the regulatory agricultural compound residue requirements. This new set of results represents a 'pass mark' of 99.99 per cent. Cumulatively, from a total of 150,781 analyses to date, there have been just 12 results of concern, giving a total of 99.9920 per cent."
Similarly Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp pointed out that the series of reports published in Australia indicated that the testing for dioxins in Australian fresh products were very similar. He added that levels of dioxins in Australia's meat, milk and fish are low and compare favourably with overseas products in terms of dioxin contamination. None of the samples, collected and analysed between 2002-2003, contained dioxin levels exceeding the European Union (EU) standard, the reports reveal.
The Australian study is an ongoing research into dioxin levels in milk, sheep, chicken, tuna, cultures seafoods, pork and beef. The Australian authorities said the programme would continue to work towards further reducing dioxin levels in all this produce.
Both the New Zealand and Australian authorities said that studies would be ongoing and that initiatives to further reduce the small incidence of dioxins in foods would be made. In particular the NZFSA said it would be looking further into iprodione levels in imported bananas, as well as the level of methamidiphos in lettuce.