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The Australian Total Diet Survey, formerly known as the Australian Market Basket Survey, is Australia' s most comprehensive assessment of consumers' dietary exposure to pesticide residues and contaminants. The survey is conducted approximately every two years, and this is the 19th such survey.

The survey estimates the level of dietary exposure for Australian consumers to a range of pesticide residues and contaminants through the testing of food samples representative of the total diet. These samples were prepared ' table-ready ', for example, the potatoes were cooked.

The survey also provides valuable background data that can be used for the development of food regulatory measures. It is used by the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals when considering registration of chemical products. Indeed, data from previous surveys were used by ANZFA during the recent Review of the Food Standards Code and were integral to the development of standards in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

A number of changes have been made by ANZFA in the conduct of the 19th survey. The most obvious change is to the format and presentation of the survey, where a shorter report has been produced with more detailed information provided on the ANZFA web site. There have also been a number of changes to the methods for estimating dietary exposure, and in the use of the latest food consumption data derived from the 1995 National Nutrition Survey.

The results demonstrate that the levels of pesticide residues and contaminants in our food are very low, and in all cases they are within acceptable safety limits where reliable dietary exposure estimates could be calculated. However, the survey has indicated the need to further investigate the potential for obtaining analyses with a lower limit of reporting for mercury and antimony in food, and to develop more refined dietary exposure models for dithiocarbamate fungicides. These issues will be addressed in future surveys.

These results will be provided to the World Health Organization as a contribution to the Global Environmental Monitoring System which collects data on the levels of pesticide residues and contaminants in the food supply worldwide.

I would like to thank the health authorities and the educational and scientific institutions in the States and the Northern Territory without whose valuable assistance this survey would not have been possible. I would also like to pay tribute to the peer reviewers and the ANZFA staff for their important contribution to the preparation of this report.

I am pleased to present the Australian Total Diet Survey as part of ANZFA' s commitment to protecting public health and safety.

Michael MacKellar


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