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Tuesday, 17 September 1974
Page: 1113

Senator MILLINER (QUEENSLAND) - Is the Minister for Customs and Excise aware that there have been complaints in a Brisbane newspaper that certain canned vegetables imported from Taiwan could be a health risk because they may have been grown in human waste? If so, what action has the Minister taken on these importations? Does his Department exercise continuous controls over the quality of imported foodstuffs?

Senator MURPHY - Yes, I have seen the newspaper articles. Laboratory tests have been made on some limited samples of canned foodstuffs from Taiwan. This has been done by the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories. These samples were found to be of an acceptable standard. Further tests will be made on foodstuffs, grown under similar conditions, which are imported from Taiwan and other countries. Imported food products generally are referred by the Department of Customs and Excise to the Australian Government Analyst for testing only when there is reason to believe that they present a potential hazard to health. Testing fish for mercury content is one such case. Now there are no national food standards which apply generally to imported or locally produced foods. The setting up and enforcement of such standards has been under study by a number of departments, including the Department of Customs and Excise. The honourable senator will recall that in the legislation which has now become the Trade Practices Act there is provision for product safety standards to be established by regulation, and these standards would have Australia-wide operation.

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