Top 7 reasons why Australia rejects imported foods at the border

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 23rd November 2016

Stuart Grant speaking at FoodLegal's symposium in Sydney this week.

The Assistant Director of Australia’s Imported Food section, Mr Stuart Grant, has revealed why many food imports are being rejected.

Mr Grant, from the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, was speaking to a large food industry audience in Sydney yesterday at a symposium for imports and exports organised by FoodLegal, which is an Australian law firm which specialises in food product compliance and food industry laws.

Mr Grant broke down the following areas of non-compliance with Australian laws that resulted in imported food being denied entry into Australia.

  1. Labelling issues (71.8 percent) – This is by far the largest area of non-compliance.  The most common issues are labels that omit importer details, nutrition information, a complete ingredients list, a lot code, or an origin declaration.  Labelling requirements are set out in the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code (ANZFSC).
  2. Microbiological issues (8.8 percent) – Food rejected under this category has been tested for microbiological contaminants including E. coli, salmonella, listeria monocytogenes, and bacillus cereus.
  3. Food contaminants (7.8 percent) – These foods have been tested for, and were found to contain traces of, contaminants.  The most common contaminants include iodine in seaweed, hydrocyanic acid in cassava chips, and aflatoxins in nuts.
  4. Composition label assessment (5.2 percent) – Food in this category has been rejected because the label of the food indicates that the product contains additives or ingredients that are not permitted under the ANZFSC.
  5. Presence of unsafe chemicals (4.3 percent) – Food can be tested upon entry to Australia for the presence of dangerous chemicals such as certain pesticides, fluoroquinolones, and chemicals that are prohibited under the fruit and vegetable residue screen.
  6. Composition analytical (1.4 percent) – These foods have undergone analytical testing, which has found issues with the composition of the food including the presence of allergens, adulteration or moisture.
  7. BSE certificate (0.7 percent) – Food containing beef must be accompanied by a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) certificate which recognises that the food complies with Australia’s BSE policy.  Food in this category has been rejected because a BSE certificate has not been produced.

The above figures were based on a six-month period of inspections from July 2015 – December 2015 by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.  Of the food inspected during this time, 98.6 percent was compliant with Australian laws and standards.