The Environment and Food Quality

Australia: State of the Environment Technical Paper Series (Land Resources), Series 1
Philippa Rowland, Graeme Evans and James Walcott
Department of the Environment, 1997
ISBN 0 642 25283 1

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About the Technical Paper

Just as agricultural production inevitably has an impact on the environment, the quality of food produced inevitably reflects its production environment and process. This paper reports on the quality of food produced in Australia as it is affected by measures of environmental quality, specifically the content of pesticide residues and heavy metals under the Food standards code. Australian food is of a high standard, its quality protected by a regulatory framework backed up by monitoring systems. Monitoring of residues and heavy metals in food prepared to a table-ready state is undertaken by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority in its Market Basket Survey. Monitoring of export commodities is contracted to the National Residue Survey by agricultural industries. Additional targeted monitoring programs are carried out by the States to identify any breaches of good agricultural practice and to test specific commodities as required by importing countries. However, current monitoring for chemical residues and heavy metals focuses upon the food commodity/product rather than the environment. At present there are only a few programs monitoring chemicals in the Australian environment and there is a lack of baseline data against which to measure trends. Greater consideration is being given to the environmental impact of production processes. In future, this impact on the environment is likely to become as important as the quality of the end product.