The Almond Programme
The Almond Programme involves the testing of Australian almonds for a range of chemical residues and environmental contaminants. The programme, which has been operating since 2008, is a cooperative arrangement between the National Residue Survey (NRS) and the Almond Board of Australia (ABA). The program is funded through a contractual agreement with the ABA and participating almond processing plants.
The Almond Programme covers random residue monitoring which ensures the almond industry can meet quality assurance and certification requirements for domestic and international markets.
Approximately 30 to 60 almond samples are collected each year by quality assurance staff in accordance with NRS procedures. Samples are randomly selected with the aim to establish a nation-wide spread of samples covering as many producers as is practicable each year.
Samples are collected from Almondco Australia Ltd and Nut Producers of Australia in South Australia and Select Harvests and Olam Orchards in Victoria. Once collected, the samples are freighted overnight directly to the contract laboratory for analysis.
Chemical screens are developed in consultation with the almond industry and take into account Australian registered chemicals, chemical residue profiles and overseas market requirements. Almond samples are screened for a range of different pesticides and environmental contaminants, as outlined in Table 1 of the attached brochure.
Laboratory selection and performance
The NRS contracts laboratories to analyse almond samples for chemical residues and environmental contaminants. Laboratories are selected through the Australian Government tendering process on the basis of their proficiency, accreditation against international standards (ISO/IEC 17025:2005) and value for money.
Contracted laboratories are proficiency tested by the NRS to ensure the validity of their analytical results and technical competence. The NRS has been accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities as a proficiency test provider since July 2005.
International export markets
The NRS maintains a database of international maximum residue limits (MRLs) for countries that are major export markets for Australian animal and plant products.
All almond results are checked for compliance with Australian standards and relevant international MRLs. The database can be accessed at edaff.gov.au/NRSMRLExternal/Public/Disclaimer.aspx.
In 2014-15, a total of 39 almond samples were collected and analysed in the multi-residue pesticide screen, and the results were compared with the relevant Australian Standards. The compliance rate in this period was 100 per cent.
Over the past 5 years the Australian almond industry has shown a high degree of compliance with Australian Standards as shown in Table 2 of the attached brochure. This demonstrates that the Australian almond industry use in-crop and post-harvest agricultural chemicals in accordance with good agricultural practice, which assures international markets of the excellent residue and contaminant status of Australian almonds.
National Residue Survey
The NRS facilitates residue monitoring in animal and plant commodities to manage the risk of chemical residues and environmental contaminants in Australian food products. In doing so, NRS programmes support Australia’s food industry and primary producers by confirming Australia’s status as a producer of clean food and facilitating access to domestic and export markets.
The NRS is an operational unit within the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, funded by Australia’s primary industries through levies or through contracted direct funding. Exporting animal industries, the grains industry and various horticultural industries participate in NRS residue monitoring programmes.
All NRS programmes comply with an ISO 9001:2008 quality management system and form part of a national pesticide and veterinary medicine residue management framework. These programmes assist primary industries identify potential residue problems including failure to comply with good agricultural practices, and can indicate where follow-up action is needed to maintain Australia’s reputation as a supplier of clean produce.