AUSTRALIA: Consumers blind to toxic dangers at greengrocer
Posted: July 2nd, 2009 - 10:56pm
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Fruit and vegetables sold in NSW regularly exceed the permitted levels of chemical residue, yet consumers have no way of knowing how to identify and avoid potentially toxic produce.
The industry-run national testing body FreshTest has confirmed about 2.5 per cent of the produce it tests either exceeds the maximum residue levels set for more than 100 dangerous pesticides and herbicides, or is found to contain traces of chemicals not approved for use on the relevant crop.
But FreshTest is under no obligation to pass the results of its testing on to either the NSW Government or the consumer. And while at least two other states regularly pay FreshTest for state-based results, NSW has never bought any of the data.
Moreover, because the system is industry-run and fully funded by the Australian Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries, the testing is voluntary, done only at the request of either the grower or the wholesaler.
In contrast to Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, which all conduct independent testing for residue, no such testing has been carried out by the NSW Government in more than four years, even though the Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, told Parliament in May that "the [NSW] Food Authority regularly undertakes testing for residues".