Food monitoring programs

As part of Government and industry efforts to safeguard agriculture produce within Western Australia, the Department of Health, with support from local governments, monitors chemical residues in fresh fruit and vegetables in addition to various other food surveys conducted under the Western Australian Food Monitoring Program. Local Government environmental health officers collect a wide variety of fruit and vegetables from growers, packers, wholesale and retail markets for this purpose.  

Agricultural chemicals are used in food production to control insect pests, fungal diseases and weeds. Whilst the use of these chemicals can control pests and disease, they should also be safe for people and the environment. With over 10,000 agricultural and veterinary products registered for use in Australia, managing the safe use of these chemicals and the sale of safe and suitable food involves a number of different government agencies and legislation. 

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) (external site) is the statutory authority responsible for the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals up to the point of retail sale. The APVMA has responsibility for determining, through a detailed assessment process, that a chemical is safe to users, consumers, the environment and trade before it is registered for use within Australia. The maximum residue limits (MRL) are set under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Instrument No. 4 (MRL Standard) 2012 and are listed under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code).

Maximum Residue Limits (MRL)

Standard 1.4.2 – Agvet Chemicals (external site) of the Food Standards Code details the maximum permissible limits for agricultural and veterinary chemical residues present in food. If a MRL for an agricultural or veterinary (agvet) chemical is not listed in Standard 1.4.2, there must be no detectable residues of that chemical present in food.

WA fresh fruit and vegetable survey findings

Year  Report Overview
2020 2020 Agricultural Chemical Residue Survey of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (PDF 750KB)  The 2020 survey monitored the level of agricultural chemical residues in locally produced whole, fresh fruits and vegetables available for sale to the public from the farm gate or at a local market
2018 Fruit, Vegetables and Agricultural Chemicals 2017-18 Monitory Survey (PDF 750KB) The 2017-18 survey monitored the level of chemical residues in whole, fresh fruits and vegetables from major distribution centres and packing sheds
2009 | 2011 | 2013 | 2015 Monitoring Agricultural Chemical Residue Levels in Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (PDF 760KB) The surveys involved collecting and analysing samples of different commodities from a variety of retail and wholesale food businesses.

Please note that reports on Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Agricultural Chemical Residue surveys conducted under the Western Australian Food Monitoring Program are completely independent from the National Residue Survey annual report prepared by the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment. Care should be taken when comparing these reports as they are based on independent aims and objectives.

Last reviewed: 22-06-2021
Produced by

Environmental Health Directorate