Food Residues Surveillance Programme (FRSP)

The FRSP surveys foods that are not measured by other programmes for pesticide residues and chemical contaminants. It covers in New Zealand-produced and imported food

Purpose and aims

The FRSP covers all kinds of residues and contaminants in all types of food. In practice, it focuses on identified risk foods and contaminants, and gaps in other information being collected.

The FRSP allows MPI to:

  • monitor compliance in relation to new and existing food regulatory measures
  • identify issues of potential importance to public health and safety
  • monitor long-term trends in the levels of chemical hazards in food
  • respond to issues of major community concern.

The programme isn’t used for compliance, but assists with the development of new or existing compliance programmes.

History

The FRSP was established in 2003 to investigate residues and contaminants in food for which there was no existing or suitable verification programme..

What foods and residues are tested

The FRSP is usually concerned with food produced or imported into New Zealand, including primary produce and processed foods. Food intended for export is well-covered by other food monitoring programmes.

Each year, the programme team decides which combinations of foods and residues will be investigated. These are measured against criteria which include:

  • how toxic the chemical is when ingested
  • how often the treated food is eaten
  • how widely available it is in New Zealand and Australia.

MPI is more likely to investigate food and residue combinations which score highly against the criteria.

How data is collected

Samples are collected as close to production as possible. The number of samples collected and analysed depends on the information that is required. Food products can have samples taken every year as part of a continuing programme. In these cases information about long-term trends and seasonal variations is being collected.

Testing in laboratories

The laboratories that test samples for residues and contaminants are typically the same as those that test dairy products, meat and honey. They use the same quality controls and enter results into an online database maintained by MPI.

How data is used and reported

Data collected through the programme is used for the following purposes:

  • to develop new, or amend current controls on foods or agricultural compounds
  • to provide better food safety information to consumers
  • to develop more targeted compliance to ensure safe and suitable food.

Reporting results

All the data collected through the FRSP is publicly available, although the producers, whose food products have been sampled, are not identified. Unexpected or adverse results may be referred to officers within MPI, who decide if further action should be taken. If the results indicate a high risk to consumers, then enforcement action may be recommended.