Exclusive: SBS Testing reveals worrying levels of chemicals in foods available for sale in Australia

Worrying and in some cases illegal levels of heavy metals, carcinogenic insecticide and arsenic has been found in multiple foods being imported into Australia as revealed by independent testing commissioned by SBS Punjabi Radio as part of a special investigation into the safety of Australia’s food import industry.

After receiving reports from listeners complaining of problems with foods they had purchased at South Asian grocery stores around Australia, SBS Punjabi Radio team were prompted to investigate further. They sent 18 products purchased at Indian Specialty stores across greater Melbourne to the National Measurement Institute, a food testing lab accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities.

The tests revealed two instances of products which failed Australian food safety standards:

 – Kohinoor brand basmati rice found to contain Buprofezin – an insecticide banned in Australia.
 – Popular Indian spice brand MDH found to contain pesticides above the accepted Australian limit.
Apart from the two foods that failed to meet FSANZ standards, the National Measurement Institute also tested many samples of popular foods.

Results indicate that at least four other products could be considered unsafe due to the levels of lead, copper and insecticide residues.

The four potentially risky products are:
– Cerelac – a baby cereal produced by Nestlé.
– Complan – a powdered milk drink for growing children manufactured by Heinz in India.
– Indus basmati – a rice from Pakistan.
– Verka Ghee – a clarified butter widely used by South Asians in their daily cooking

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