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Glyphosate

(May 2019)

 ​Key points

  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is aware of recent international concerns about the use of glyphosate.

  • Glyphosate is a herbicide which is widely used in Australia and many other countries to control weeds.
    The Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) regulates the use of glyphosate.

  • The APVMA, in collaboration with FSANZ, sets Maximum Residue Limits for pesticides, including glyphosate, to limit the level of residue that can be legally present in Australian and imported foods.

  • We undertake routine monitoring of glyphosate and other agricultural chemicals in the food supply as part of the Australian Total Diet Study. The study has consistently found that levels of glyphosate in foods and dietary exposure for Australian consumers are very low.

  • There are no safety concerns relating to estimated dietary exposure of the Australian population to glyphosate residues in food.

What is glyphosate?

Glyphosate is a herbicide which is registered for use in Australia to control a wide variety of leafy weeds. It controls weeds by inhibiting the activity of a plant-based enzyme which is not found in humans.

How is glyphosate regulated?

The APVMA regulates the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, including glyphosate in Australia.

We work with the APVMA to set Maximum Residue Limits, which are the maximum concentrations of agricultural and veterinary chemicals legally permitted in foods for sale in Australia.

The limits are specified in Schedule 20 of Standard 1.4.2 of the Food Standards Code. The Code is enforced by Australian food enforcement authorities.

The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries regulates and enforces the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in New Zealand, including setting Maximum Residue Limits for New Zealand foods.

Is my food safe?

Before Maximum Residue Limits are established, we ensure they are safe from a public health and safety perspective.

We do this by assessing the limits against health-based guidance values, including Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADIs). ADIs represent a safe level of dietary exposure to a substance everyday over a lifetime.

The APVMA has established an ADI for glyphosate of 0.3 mg/kg body weight. In light of recent international concerns, the APVMA continues to review the scientific information on glyphosate.  The APVMA continues to actively monitor any new scientific information about glyphosate and remains satisfied that registered products containing glyphosate can continue to be used safely according to label directions. The APVMA's position and the Australian ADI is aligned with other international regulators and advice from the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (2016).

How much glyphosate is in foods?

We routinely monitor agricultural and veterinary chemicals (including glyphosate) in the Australian food supply as part of our Australian Total Diet Study. Glyphosate may be present at low levels in the environment (and sometimes food) as a result of legitimate agricultural uses.  

In addition, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources monitors Australian food produce through the National Residues Survey and foods imported into Australia through the Imported Food Inspection Scheme. State and territory health and agriculture authorities also undertake surveillance programs for chemical residues in food. The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries monitors agricultural and veterinary chemicals in the New Zealand food supply.

The Australian Total Diet Study has consistently found that levels of glyphosate in foods and dietary exposure for Australian consumers is very low. We recently assessed glyphosate as part of the 25th Australian Total Diet Study, which is due for publication in 2019. The Study found a low number of detections in cereal products which were well below the MRL. Estimated dietary exposure was less than 1% of the ADI for Australian consumers and there are no concerns for the general Australian population.

 

 

 

 

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