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Total Diet Survey starts tomorrow

27 July 2003

Total Diet Survey starts tomorrow

The first New Zealand Total Diet Survey commissioned by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority starts tomorrow.

The Survey which had, until the inception of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, previously been carried out by the Ministry of Health, will estimate dietary exposure to chemical residues, contaminants and selected nutrients for the average New Zealander.

The programme starts tomorrow with health protection officers from public health units in Auckland, Napier and Christchurch, shopping at their local supermarket for the food items to be tested. The food will then be sent to Christchurch for preparation and analysis.

“The interesting thing about this survey is that food is analysed as it is consumed,” Project Leader Cherie Flynn said.

“For example meat will be cooked before it is tested and vegetables, if normally cooked, will be done the same way for the survey. ESR in Christchurch is managing the collection, testing and analysis of food samples,” Mrs Flynn said.

The Survey will be carried out over the next 12 months and food will be collected every three months. The amount of foods to be tested in this Survey has been increased by a third on the last survey done in 1997/98.

“The foods being tested are representative of the changing dietary habits of our population and reflect the general eating habits of most age groups. We’ll be testing foods eaten by infants, children, teenagers, young men and adults over the age of 25. Simulated diets for those groups will then be used to translate individual food results into the estimation of total dietary exposures,” Mrs Flynn said.

Feedback and preliminary results of the Survey will be released regularly throughout the survey period with a final report expected in 2005. The findings of the Survey will contribute to the World Health Organisation Global Environmental Monitoring System Food Programme and enable accurate international comparisons. Some of the results will also be used to update information on the New Zealand Food Composition Database put together by Crop and Food under contract to the Ministry of Health.

More information on the list of foods and what they will be tested for is available on the NZFSA website


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