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Completed ISFR food surveys

The purpose of the Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR) is to design and maintain an approach to food regulation that is collaborative and consistent between all Australian states and territories and New Zealand. One part of this approach is to conduct surveillance and monitoring activities, such as analytical food surveys, to monitor the food supply and gather data to inform either new or existing food standards. These activities are led and managed by agencies in Australia or New Zealand, with input from other jurisdictions in the planning, design, food sampling and/or food analysis for the survey. The outcomes of each survey and any follow up activities are agreed and managed by ISFR.

View the ISFR Coordinated Food Survey Plan for July 1 2015 to 30 June 2018 (word 58.6kb)

The table below lists surveys completed by agencies in Australia or New Zealand under the coordinated food survey plan. 

Year published

Survey

Lead agency

Purpose

Outcome

​2016 On-farm food safety practices survey of strawberry growing in Victoria FSANZ/DEDJTR

To understand if there are any gaps in  on-farm food safety practices and information for managing microbiological contamination amongst growers.

Amongst other findings the survey demonstrated that on-farm food safety in the Victorian strawberry industry is generally well managed, regardless of whether growers have a good knowledge of food safety and/or have a recognised quality assurance system. A satisfactory standard of hygienic food handling was observed during the survey and the adoption of practices to reduce costs and improve productivity, such as drip irrigation, have complementary food safety risk management benefits. No E.coli was detected in any of the 330 strawberry samples collected and tested.
​2015

Survey of the trans fatty acid (TFA) content of Australian and New Zealand foods

​FSANZ

This survey aimed to establish current levels of TFAs in a range of processed and takeaway foods available in Australia and New Zealand.

Data for the survey were collected in 2013.

The results, along with other work, helped to inform FSANZ's technical advice to ministers on a labelling review recommendation on TFAs.

 
 

The median TFA concentrations in Australian or New Zealand foods were similar to levels found in the previous
2008‒09 and 2005‒2007 surveys.

The results are consistent with previous TFA survey results. Dietary modelling on previous surveys found that Australians obtain on average 0.5 per cent of their daily energy intake from TFAs and New Zealanders on average 0.6 per cent. This is well below the World Health Organization recommendation of no more than 1 per cent.


​2014

Combined survey and risk assessment for cyanogenic glycosides

​FSANZ /
NZMPI

​The purpose of the survey was to collect data on levels of HCN in plant-based foods, including cassava containing foods other than ready-to-eat (RTE) cassava chips, in the Australian and New Zealand food supply; and estimate dietary exposure and assess if there are any health and safety concerns from potential exposure to HCN from a range of foods, as well as inform any future standards development in Australia and New Zealand.

 


​The survey identified that cyanogenic glycosides (measured as hydrocyanic acid or HCN) are present in a wide range of Australian and New Zealand plant-based foods at levels consistent with or lower than those reported in the scientific literature. Raw apricot kernels with skin contained HCN concentrations substantially higher than any other food analysed.

​2014

National Surveillance Program for Genetically Modified Foods

NSWFA

​The purpose of the survey was to look at the methods and processes businesses have in place to demonstrate their compliance with the GM labelling requirements of the Code and to guide jurisdictions in determining the focus of future monitoring and surveillance of GM food in the Australian food supply. 

 


​Overall most businesses had systems in place to demonstrate compliance with the labelling provisions of Standard 1.5.2, with most including some form of verification.
​2013

Survey of inorganic arsenic in seaweed and seaweed-containing products available in Australia

 

​FSANZ
​To investigate levels of inorganic arsenic in dried seaweed and products containing seaweed available in Australia.

​The levels of inorganic arsenic in various seaweed types tested were all below the maximum level (ML) for seaweed of 1 mg/kg in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, with the exception of one composite sample of hijiki seaweed. The details of the hijiki seaweed were referred to the relevant jurisdiction for further investigation and/or any relevant follow-up activity.

2012

Prevalence of Salmonella and E. coli in ready to eat nuts and nut products sold in Australia

NSWFA

To gather information on the prevalence of Salmonella and E. coli in ready-to-eat (RTE) nuts and their products at retail level (both imported and domestically produced products), following a number of recalls. Information gathered will be used to inform consumers, manufacturers and regulatory authorities about the microbiological quality of nut and nut products in Australia.

 

The survey found that the microbiological quality of nuts and nut products in Australia is generally very good. Only one sample of nuts was found to contain Salmonella, and one sample was considered marginal for E.coli.

2012

Survey of sulphites in sausages, cordial and dried fruit

FSANZ

To gather further data to inform Proposal P298 - Benzoate and sulphite permissions in food.

The sulphite levels in sausages detected in this survey are similar to the levels detected in the 21st ATDS. Dried apricots and sultanas had lower levels of sulphites in this survey compared with the 21st ATDS. The majority of samples are well below the MPL in the code. The outcomes of this survey have informed Proposal 298 – Benzoate and Sulphite permissions in foods. Risk management actions will be determined as part of this proposal.

 

2011

23rd Australian Total Diet Study

FSANZ

To examine the dietary exposure of the Australian population to 214 agricultural and veterinary chemicals, 9 contaminants, 12 mycotoxins, and 11 nutrients. A total of 92 foods and beverages commonly consumed in the Australian diet were sampled during January/February and June/July 2008.

This study confirmed the current safety of the Australian food supply in terms of the levels of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, contaminants, selected mycotoxins and nutrients. The results are consistent with previous ATDSs that have shown dietary exposure to these chemicals from the food supply to be well within health-based guidance values.

2011

Survey of iodine in seaweed and seaweed containing products

FSANZ

To investigate the iodine levels in seaweed and seaweed containing products. This survey was undertaken in response to a national food incident, which occurred due to an increased number of reported human thyroid dysfunction cases resulting from high iodine intake. The reported high iodine intake was linked to the consumption of a particular brand of soy beverage, Bonsoy, which contained high iodine levels resulting from the addition of seaweed (kombu, Laminaria spp ) during the manufacturing process.

 

The findings of this survey showed that, iodine levels in seaweed varied between red and brown seaweed but were generally higher in brown seaweed. Iodine concentrations in wakame and nori seaweed and seaweed containing products were generally low. Some other dried seaweed types had high iodine levels and were considered to be unsafe for human consumption. For those seaweed products considered to be unsafe, the relevant jurisdiction was advised for appropriate follow up action.

 

​2010

​Baseline survey on the prevalence and concentration of Salmonella and Campylobacter in chicken meat on-farm and at primary processing

 

​FSANZ
​To obtain information on the likelihood of live chickens being contaminated on-farm with Salmonella and Campylobacter and also the likelihood of the chicken being contaminated after it has been slaughtered.


​FSANZ developed a Primary Production and Processing Standard for Poultry Meat, which requires poultry farmers and processors to ensure their practices and procedures are effective at lowering the likelihood of poultry being contaminated with Salmonella and Campylobacter.

When the findings of this survey are compared to similar baseline surveys overseas, the results are generally similar for Salmonella but higher for Campylobacter. The comparison also highlights that where countries have implemented specific strategies to lower Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry, significant reductions have occurred.

2010

Survey of beverages enriched with seaweed

FSANZ

To investigate the iodine levels in beverages enriched with seaweed. The need for this survey was identified following the reported increase in the number of human dysfunction cases resulting from high iodine intake. The reported high iodine levels were linked to the consumption of Bonsoy soy beverage.

Following the incident, a survey investigating iodine levels in other beverages with added seaweed was conducted. The results of this survey indicate that maximum iodine levels detected were below levels which would give rise to health concerns.

 

2010

National coordinated survey of melamine in food and beverages

FSANZ

To determine the level of melamine in food and beverages with dairy ingredients or those which contained some dairy products or high protein foods, that had been manufactured in China and imported into Australia. This survey was conducted in response to the food incident linking the adulteration of raw milk with melamine and its analogues, to increased incidence of kidney stones in infants in China.

Sampling and analysis was conducted in two stages, reflecting two tiers of products. The first tier contained products which were considered to be high risk for melamine adulteration as they were dairy based or contained dairy based products. The second tier included a wider range of lower priority high protein foods containing soy, gluten or egg ingredients. The results showed that:

  • From the first tier of sampling, 8 products tested positive for melamine, with seven products with levels above the 2.5 mg/kg referral level established for dairy based foods and foods containing dairy based ingredients.
  • From tier 2, there were no detections of melamine above the limit of reporting (1mg/kg) in any of the samples analysed.

 

2010

Microbiological survey of fresh horticultural produce in Australia 2005-2007

FSANZ

To gather information on the prevalence and level of contamination of fresh horticultural produce through the farm-to-table food chain in Australia.

 

The results showed that the presence of pathogenic bacteria on the fresh produce sampled was very low – no pathogens were detected on the majority samples. However, verocytotoxin producing E. coli (VTEC) was detected on one seed sprout sample at the end of production and on one field parsley sample.

L. monocytogenes was detected on two farm gate and two retail strawberry samples.Salmonella was detected on one field strawberry sample.

For the VTEC positive seed sprout sample, jurisdictional requirements for sprout producers were revised. A follow-up survey was performed by the jurisdiction on seed sprouts and this survey did not detect VTEC in any samples.

 

2010

Survey of spices for the presence of pathogens in Australia (pdf 141kb)

Victorian Department of Health

To provide information regarding the level of contamination of spices available in Australia to inform future risk analyses or risk assessments.

Salmonella spp. was not detected from any of the 217 samples analysed.C.perfringens levels were generally very low. The results obtained in this study are comparable with those of similar international studies.

 

2009

Report on 2009 trans fatty acid survey – analytical results (pdf 163kb)

NSWFA

To determine the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in a range of Australian and New Zealand processed and takeaway foods following the introduction of non-regulatory measures. The ratios of TFA to other fatty acids, particularly saturated fatty acids, and changes to these ratios were also assessed.

The results showed that the ratio of TFA in a range of processed and takeaway foods were relatively low. Omitting the samples likely to contain ruminant TFA, 82.3% of the samples surveyed had TFA levels equal to or less than the Danish limit of 2 grams of TFA per 100 grams of fat.

 

2008

22nd Australian Total Diet Study

FSANZ

To estimate the dietary intake of the Australian population of five nutrient trace elements, namely iodine, selenium, chromium, molybdenum and nickel. Representative foods likely to contain these nutrients were sampled and prepared to a ‘table-ready’ state before analysis, in order to provide realistic estimates of amounts of the nutrients in the food as consumed.

 

The majority of Australians had dietary intakes approaching or above the estimated average requirement (EAR) or adequate intake (AI) for selenium, molybdenum and chromium, a substantial proportion of the population had iodine intakes below the EAR. FSANZ commissioned further analyses of iodine levels in Australian foods.

Continued monitoring of selenium concentrations and intakes may be warranted given the lower levels found in a range of foods compared to the findings of the 20th ATDS. Selenium was also included in the 23rd ATDS.

There were no concerns about excessive dietary intake of the nutrients assessed against established reference values.

 

2008

Report on food handling practices and microbiological quality of sushi in Australia

NSWFA

To determine the food handling practices and microbiological quality of retail sushi products.

Businesses were visited between June 2006 and June 2007 and samples of sushi and rice collected and tested for compliance with the FSANZ microbiological guidelines for ready-to-eat foods.

The results showed 72/73 (98.6%) of sushi rice samples and 805/851 (94.6%) of sushi samples were considered acceptable. Six sushi samples were categorised as potentially hazardous due to elevated levels of Bacillus cereus and sushi was found to have significantly higher levels of faecal coliforms and E. coli in the summer months. All samples of raw seafood tested were found to be within the Code limit for histamine levels. For all unacceptable results, follow-up action was undertaken commensurate with the level of risk posed.

 

2008

Survey of chemicals in imported seafood (pdf 164kb)

FSANZ (on the DAFF website)

To investigate whether additional chemicals need to be included in the imported food testing scheme for seafood.

Residues of one or more antimicrobial chemicals were detected in 31 of the seafood samples tested. There was no significant safety concern with the detected residues, as the levels were low. In the majority of cases, the quantities of seafood that would need to be consumed before reaching levels of exposure near the acceptable daily intake are in the hundreds of kilograms.

 

2008

National food handling survey

FSANZ

FSANZ commissioned research for the first stage of this evaluation in 2000-2001 (Evaluation report series No.1 –National food handling benchmark survey), before the Food Safety Standards were introduced.

The follow-up 2007 National food handling survey provided a second set of results for comparison with the benchmark survey national results, after the introduction of the Food Safety Standards. The follow-up survey used the same methodology as in 2001, and the sample sizes for both survey components were increased to allow analysis at the state/territory level.

The introduction and implementation of the Chapter 3 Food Safety Standards appears to have had a positive impact on the safe food handling knowledge and practices among food businesses in Australia. Overall, the 2007 National food handling survey demonstrated that there have been several significant improvements in key food safety areas since the introduction of the Food Safety Standards. It was considered that these improvements in knowledge and behaviour of safe food handling since the introduction of the Food Safety Standards are likely to have led to consequent improvements in overall food safety and public health.

 

2008

Food label monitoring survey

FSANZ

To determine the degree of consistency with the labelling requirements of the Code for specific core elements. For any identified inconsistencies with the Code, the nature of the discrepancy with the labelling provisions was determined.

Twelve label elements were assessed, based on the core information required in the Code for a label on a package of food for retail sale.

Of the 1311 labels assessed, there was a high consistency (>95%) with the Code for 8 of the 12 elements assessed. Overall, 63% of labels were considered consistent for all label elements.

2005

Survey of chemical residues in domestic and imported aquacultured fish

FSANZ

To investigate reports from overseas regulators of unapproved antimicrobials found in aqua cultured fish.

 

This survey identified a compliance issue with the presence of malachite / leucomalachite green being detected in domestic and imported fish.

The findings did not raise public health and safety concerns.

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