Diseases arriving in foreign foods – eat at your own risk!

It has been revealed that cholera has been found in shipments of prawns from China and Thailand. On top of that, peanuts imported from China were found to be contaminated by the pesticide Chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to neurological defects, as well as to autoimmune and developmental disorders.

What is more worrying is that there is not a 100% screening carried out on imported foodstuffs. Whilst the officers of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service do a good job under often trying conditions, their resources are limited, meaning that not all foods are tested and resulting in situations where imported foods have fewer tests carried out on them than Australian farmers are required to do on locally-grown produce.

The fact is that foods from many other countries do not measure up to Australian standards. Especially in the Third World, where fish are caught in rivers which are infested with human sewerage, where crops are grown by using human sewerage as fertilizer, where practices covering chemicals and pesticides are not up to scratch, in addition to other problems.

It is not only food from the Third World that has problems, although the risk is higher with such countries. Food from several European countries have found to be contaminated as well. There have also been problems with food from New Zealand and the US. Fatal cases of food poisoning are usually reported in the media; however, the incidence of non-fatal food contamination is much higher than government statistics reveal, as only a small number of cases are formally reported.

Wherever possible, it is recommended that Australians buy Australian-grown food, where companies are required to comply with Australian laws and safety standards, and where staff are trained in methods of avoiding contaminants in food processing.

If you want you and your family to live healthily and live long, then buy Australian! It’s good for your family and good for your country.

References and further reading:
Watchdog regularly finds dangers in food imports”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 December 2012 (Ewa Kretowicz)
Listeria contaminated ricotta cheese recalled in Australia”, Australian Food News, 18 October 2012 (Kate Carey)
Taiwan food contamination reaches Australia”, Australian Food News, 21 June 2011
New contamination scandal rocks Asia”, Australian Food News, 2 June 2011 (Nicole Eckersley)
Bonsoy scare triggers calls for iodine oversight”, The Australian, 4 October 2010 (AAP)
Imported FoodReporter”, 7 Perth, 2010 (Frank Pangallo)
Incidence of foodborne illness”, Food Standards, 30 November 2012


  1. I generally avoid foodstuffs made / grown in China. I’ve heard enough about maggots in chocolate and poison in baby formula to be put off.

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