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23rd Australian Total Diet Study – key findings

The Australian Total Diet Study (ATDS) is a major study undertaken every two years to estimate the dietary exposure of the population to a range of chemicals found in commonly consumed foods.

Like previous studies, this ATDS confirms the current safety of the Australian food supply in relation to the levels of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, contaminants, selected mycotoxins and nutrients.

What did the ATDS look at?

The 23rd ATDS looked at the dietary exposure of the Australian population to a range of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, contaminants, selected mycotoxins and nutrients. A total of 92 types of foods and beverages commonly consumed in the diet were collected by state and territory food regulatory agencies and sent to the laboratory to be analysed.

Dietary exposures to chemicals were estimated by determining the concentration of the chemical in the food and multiplying this by the amount of food consumed by various age and gender groups. Food consumption data from two National Nutrition Surveys (NNS), the 2007 Australian Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey for children aged 2-16 years, and the 1995 NNS for those aged 17 years and above, were used to estimate dietary exposure.

Estimated dietary exposures to agricultural and veterinary chemicals, contaminants, selected mycotoxins and nutrients were subsequently assessed against available reference health standards to determine any potential human health and safety risks. Reference health standards used were either Australian or internationally accepted standards.

Key results

Agricultural and veterinary chemicals

  • Estimated dietary exposures for agricultural and veterinary chemicals were all below relevant reference health standards. This is consistent with the findings from previous Australian total diet studies.
  • While some agricultural and veterinary chemicals that are not approved for use in Australia were detected, these were not at levels that pose a risk to human health and safety.
  • This was also true where some chemicals approved for use exceeded MRLs in the Code.
  • FSANZ provided notice to the relevant state or territory in cases where there was an exceedance or the use of non-approved chemicals was found.

Mycotoxins (toxins produced by fungi)

  • Aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, fumonisins (B1 and B2), ochratoxin A, patulin and zearalenone, were not detected in any foods analysed.


  • For all contaminants, the estimated dietary exposures were below the relevant reference health standards for all population groups at both the median and 90th percentile consumption levels (high consumers).


The ATDS only provides a general indication of nutrient intake amongst the Australian population. These indicators will inform further larger scale studies such as national nutrition surveys that will investigate and further define nutrient adequacy.

Molybdenum and selenium

    • The prevalence of intakes below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) was low.

Copper, fluoride, selenium & zinc

    • A proportion of children aged 2-3 years exceeded the Upper Levels (ULs) for these nutrients. Given the ULs for children are highly conservative, these findings are not considered to pose a risk to human health and safety.
    • Infants aged 9 months may also exceed the UL for these nutrients, excluding copper, at the 95th percentile (high consumers) of intake. Assessment of nutrient intakes for infants aged 9 months is theoretical and based on extrapolations from a model diet. As such, any conclusions around nutrient intake for this population group should take this into account.

Read the full report for more information.


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