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Endosulfan residues in beef not a threat to consumer safety

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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Judith Troeth

AFFA98/20T 16 December 1998


Senator Judith Troeth, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said today that consumers should not be alarmed by the recent detection of the chemical residue endosulfan in beef from Queensland and NSW.

Senator Troeth said, "A number of processes are in place to monitor and control the levels of chemical residues found in beef in Australia, which ensure compliance with Australian Standards."

"SAFEMEAT, a joint industry-government peak body and the National Residue Testing program together monitor meat safety and hygiene. Recent monitoring has uncovered an increased incidence of low levels of endosulfan in beef from Queensland and NSW. These levels are not considered significant in public health terms."

Chemical residues can be found in cattle when they are exposed to fodder or pasture contaminated by endosulfan. It would appear that in Queensland and NSW, as a result of enhanced pest conditions and cotton plantings, it is possible that treatments with endosulfan have increased the level of endosulfan residues found in some neighbouring beef cattle properties.

Senator Troeth said, "Both the Australian cattle and cotton industries have agreed to enhance the targeted residue testing program already in place."

These measures include increasing the numbers of properties being targeted under the testing program; moving the testing program to a "test-and-hold" process and providing additional information to cotton and cattle farmers on the use of endosulfan.

Senator Troeth said "These enhanced measures will ensure that best agricultural practice is adopted by cotton farmers to control levels and possible contamination of neighbouring cattle properties."

"The system already in place for monitoring chemical residues in meat has meant we are able to detect fluctuations in residue levels and adjust the program accordingly and if necessary alert consumers of any threat to their health."

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Telephone: (02) 6277 3002 Facsimile: (02) 6277 3205 Unit 1 322-332 St Kilda Road St Kilda Victoria 3182 Telephone: (03) 9593 9511 Facsimile: (03) 9593 9971

It is important to note that these results relate specifically to a small number of highly targeted areas. The overall integrity of Australian beef as measured by the National Residue Survey continues to demonstrate a high level of compliance with Australian standards (greater than 99.97%).

Further information:

Senator Troeth's office -AFFA -MLA CCA

Alex Staples (02) 6277 3002 or 0417 449 921 Bob Biddle (02) 6272 5364 David Palmer (02) 9463 9256 Justin Toohey (02) 6273 3688