Analysing the NZ diet

Monday, 10 March, 2008

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) has started planning for the 2009 New Zealand Total Diet Survey, when commonly eaten food substances are put under the microscope.

Every five or six years, more than 120 foods eaten as part of a typical diet in New Zealand are tested to see what else they might contain. The tests look for chemical residues and certain contaminants and nutrients, providing a snapshot of New Zealanders’ exposure to these elements in a typical diet.

“With our stringent food safety procedures in New Zealand, residues and contaminants are rarely an issue but without regular testing we can't be confident that our systems are performing as intended,” said NZFSA senior program manager, Cherie Flynn.

“Results are not expected to change significantly from the last survey, conducted in 2003–04, but it will let us see if certain trends are continuing.

“The two most worrying, from a health perspective, are our high levels of sodium consumption and low levels of iodine.”

Once a list of foods to be sampled has been confirmed, sampling officers around the country will go shopping to gather samples. They will do this over four sampling rounds during 2009 to capture seasonal variations.

All foods are then prepared ready for consumption and tested ‘as consumed’, meaning bananas are peeled and meat is cooked.

Interim quarterly results will be available throughout 2009.

For more information on the survey, visit

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