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Food Safety

 

A number of parameters fall within the definition of affecting the quality of grain, and thus can be loosely described as food safety parameters. Limits exist for many of these, although in general many restrictions do not apply for Australian grain given the relatively low risk of the presence of these parameters in Australian grain at levels likely to be a food safety risk.

Different limits may exist for grain for human consumption or grain used for stockfeed. Those limits may be listed in importing country legislation or in commercial contracts. Requirements may exist for grain traded domestically or for grain exported.

GTA provides advice to DAWE on grain industry requirements, including comments on any proposed changes to domestic and international market requirements for various food safety practices. This is coordinated through the GTA Standards Committee sub-committee being the Food Safety & Biosecurity committee.

Food Safety Database

Advice is also provided by GTA to the Australian government representatives on various Codex committees dealing with food safety issues. In that regard, to assist in providing meaningful data to those representatives, GTA has developed a food safety database for use by industry. That database is free for members to use, by adding their own monitoring data on various food safety aspects. The data is held confidentially. See here for further details or to access the database contact GTA (link to GTA Fact Sheet here).

Outlined below are a range of quality parameters that may fall into this category that should be considered when trading grain. Note that as these regulations alter over time, with many in draft revision status, they have not been listed. Contact GTA for updates.

Chemical Residues

Each country generally has their own legislation relating to approved chemicals, banned chemicals and maximum residue limits (MRLs) to apply. Refer to the National Working Party on Grain Protection (NWPGP) for further details and contacts to seek requirements that apply (link here).

Heavy Metals

There are a range of heavy metals, with some key heavy metals for grain being arsenic, cadmium and lead.

Heavy metal maximum levels (MLs) exist in both Australia and in many overseas markets. Some market MLs and their applicable regulations are listed below:

Australia as applied by Food Standards Australia New Zealand FSANZ) https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/F2015L00454
Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food http://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/committees/committee/related-standards/en/?committee=CCCF
European Union https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/chemical_safety/contaminants/catalogue_en
India https://www.fssai.gov.in/
Bryant Christie (subscription service) https://www.bryantchristie.com/
WHO Food Safety Database https://www.who.int/foodsafety/databases/en/

Mycotoxins

There are a range of mycotoxins, with some key mycotoxins for grain being aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol, fumonisins and ochratoxin.

Mycotoxin maximum levels (MLs) exist in both Australia and in many overseas markets. For several mycotoxins, there are Codes of Practice that are adopted by either an individual country or internationally, that assist to minimise the presence of mycotoxins in food and feed. Some market MLs and their applicable regulations are listed below:

Australia as applied by Food Standards Australia New Zealand FSANZ) https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/F2015L00454
Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food http://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/committees/committee/related-standards/en/?committee=CCCF
European Union https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/chemical_safety/contaminants/catalogue_en
India https://www.fssai.gov.in/
Bryant Christie (subscription service) https://www.bryantchristie.com/

Other Contaminants

Various other contaminants in grain and related products are being discussed internationally and within importing countries. While many are not of high risk for grain, as technology and regulations develop, it is expected that regulations will be adopted and thus impact of grain. Many limits apply only to grain intended for consumption to the more susceptible population such as infant foods. These include contaminants such as:

  • Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids as present in various weed seeds
  • Acrylamide generally in processed foods rather than whole grains
  • Dioxins along with Codes of Practice for their management
  • Microbiological contaminants such as yeast and mould, Staphylococcus, Enterobacteriaceae, Listeria, Salmonella
  • Radiation limits for various radionuclides such as Caesium (Cs 134, Cs137).

Contact GTA for further specific information.

 


National Working Party on Grain Protection (NWPGP)

The National Working Party on Grain Protection (NWPGP) is the body responsible for providing management and leadership to industry in the areas of post-harvest grain storage and hygiene, chemical use, outturn tolerances, international and domestic market requirements and chemical regulations.

GTA support the NWPGP through the provision of Secretariet services to their Strategic Working Group and coordination of their annual meeting - The Australian Grain Storage & Protection Conference

One of the key output of the NWPGP annually is the Chemical Usage & Outturn Tolerances Document developed with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. 

The document outlines permitted chemicals for use post-harvest and applicable Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) for grain outturned to the Australian domestic or export markets. Industry is encouraged to familiarise themselves with this document to ensure Australian grain continues to comply with market requirements for chemical residues.

 


National Residue Survey (NRS)

The National Residue Survey (NRS) is a vital part of the Australian system for managing the risk of chemical residues and environmental contaminants in Australian food products. The NRS supports Australia’s food industry and primary producers by facilitating access to key export markets and confirming Australia’s status as a producer of clean food. NRS programs encourage good agricultural practices, help to identify potential problems and indicate where follow-up action is needed.

Particpation in the NRS in mandatory for GTA Members as is outlined in the Australian Grain Industry Code of Practice.

NRS results and publications are produced annually, including both export and domestic grains. 

 


Codex - International Food Standards 

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) is the international food standards setting body recognised by the World Trade Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) as being the reference point for food standards applied in international trade with the objectives of protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.

Codex publishes a pesticide database - to search for the Maximum Residue Limits (MRL's) of pesticides in food and feed 

GTA works closely with the Dept. Agriculture & Water Resources (Biosecurity) and the NWPGP on Codex related issues and provides submissions on a range of food safety, quarantine and trade related issues on behalf of members as and when key issues and opportunities arise.