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Ethyl carbamate in Australian foods (2007)

(Survey sampling and analysis conducted 2007)

Ethyl carbamate (EC), or urethane, is a chemical contaminant that occurs naturally in foods undergoing fermentation during processing or storage. Foods such as bread, soy sauce and yoghurt; as well as alcoholic beverages such as whisky, fruit brandies, beer and wine have been found to contain quantifiable levels of EC.

In 2007 FSANZ decided to undertake an analytical survey to quantify actual levels of EC in foods and alcoholic beverages in Australia. This was necessary to quantify levels of EC in the Australian food supply and to accurately estimate dietary exposure and assess potential risk to human health for Australians. This survey was undertaken as part of the surveillance program in 2007.

A total of 315 individual samples were purchased for analysis, targeting foods consumed in Australia which undergo fermentation in their production such as yoghurt, bread, soy sauce and a range of alcohols such as; wine, whisky, and fruit brandies. Other food and beverage samples such as; bread, milk and beer were also included in the sampling as they form a significant part of the Australian diet.

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