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Total Diet Survey unveiled

Total Diet Survey unveiled

Consumer groups have been presented with their first glimpse of a proposed list of foods to be tested as part of the New Zealand Total Diet Survey being undertaken by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority in 2003/2004.

The Total Diet Survey is carried out every five to six years. It assesses the health implications of, and estimates the potential dietary exposure to, selected pesticides, contaminants and nutrient elements in the New Zealand food supply. The previous surveys have been done by the Ministry of Health. The proposed list was presented to a regular meeting of the Consumers’ Forum on Food Safety in Wellington today.

The proposed list of foods contains 110 commonly eaten foods, three foods that are considered high risk (lambs liver, mussels and oysters) and eight foods consumed specifically by children or infants.

“The foods selected are intended to represent the average and typical intakes of New Zealanders, NZFSA Executive Director Dr Andrew McKenzie said.

“It’s interesting to note the foods that are popular now compared to the last survey in 1997/98. Research indicates that muffins and scones, cream, flavoured milk and salad dressing are now popular food items and cornbeef is as popular as other types of meat included in the list. Ham is more popular than luncheon sausage in sandwiches and avocado is becoming an increasingly popular food item,” Dr McKenzie said.

“Having representatives from consumer groups look at the proposed list will allow us to determine whether we are on the right track,” Dr McKenzie said.

“The list of pesticides, contaminants and nutrient elements that the foods will be tested for is still to be drawn up and a meeting will be held with interested parties in December to determine that. Consumer groups have been invited to attend that meeting and to provide input into what the survey will cover,” Dr McKenzie said.

In addition funding will be made available to research areas of concern to consumers. National Consumers Food Safety Network spokesperson Meriel Watts, who attended today’s meeting, said it was the first time a government department had made funding available specifically for that purpose. “We are very pleased to be able to provide input into such an important survey,” she said.

It is expected that feedback on the progress of the survey will be released regularly throughout the survey period with a final report expected in 2005. The findings of the survey will also contribute to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Environmental Monitoring System Food Programme and enable accurate international comparisons.

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