A pilot program to monitor pesticides in Australian fruit and vegetables was halted by the Abbott government, despite it detecting residues up to 90 times the permitted maximum levels in strawberries. The same research also found extreme levels of pesticides in some peach and apricot samples, that made eating affected fruit a health risk.
Unlike the US, Canada, New Zealand and Europe, there is no regular monitoring of agricultural chemicals in most food sold domestically in Australia. Meat and some fruit for export such as apples, pears and macadamias, are tested under the national residues survey, run by the department.
But the only monitoring of pesticide residues in fruit sold domestically is by FreshTest, run by the industry body Fresh Markets Australia, which involves growers providing samples once a year. The pilot studied hundreds of samples of peaches, apricots and strawberries bought at fruit and vegetable markets around Australia.