Managing chemical residues

Agricultural and veterinary chemical products break down over time after they have been applied, but some residues do remain on crops or in animals.

Chemicals that may be detected as residues include:

  • antibiotics used to control bacterial diseases in animals
  • anthelmintics used to control internal parasites in animals
  • fungicides used to control fungal diseases in plants and plant products
  • insecticides used to control insect pests in crops, protect stored grain and control external parasites on animals
  • herbicides used to control weeds in crops
  • fumigants used to protect grain and sterilise soil, sheds and bee hives
  • hormonal growth promotants used as veterinary medicines or to improve growth in livestock.

Avoiding unwanted residues

Misusing chemical products can cause high levels of residues in meat and other food, and could cause harm to humans.

To avoid residues you must follow all of the following practices:

  • only use a chemical for the crop listed on the label or permit
  • only use it at the concentration and rate recommended on the label or permit
  • do not use it more often than stated on the label or permit
  • only harvest produce after the stated withholding period has passed.

Monitoring residue levels

Chemical residues in horticultural produce are monitored, including when it is transported interstate.

The National Residue Survey oversees national monitoring programs to encourage good agricultural practices, help to identify potential problems and indicate where follow-up action is needed. For more information visit the National Residue Survey website.

Growers can initiate their own testing of their produce through the FreshTest Australia program of the Australian Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries. For more information visit the FreshTest website.

NT laws about chemical residues

The following Northern Territory laws regulate chemical residues in food.

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Last updated: 28 November 2017