Australia’s food safety: not yum

Manpreet Kaur Singh

Posted on: 29 October, 2016

Two Indian-Australian journalists, Manpreet ​Kaur ​Singh and Shamsher Kainth, carried out an investigation that reveals that several food items available in Australia and imported from India are “unfit for human consumption”. The investigation revealed ​that some food products from ​popular Indian brands MDH and Kohinoor too failed food safety standards. 

As part of this investigation, SBS commissioned independent lab testing of a number of imported Indian foods available in Australia.

These are the findings.

The SBS Punjabi Radio team 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 and one instance of a completely banned food that is somehow slipping through Australian customs checks on food imports:

· 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. 

· Banned substance Betel Nut readily available for sale in Australia

In addition to products that failed to meet FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) standards, at least four other products were identified that could be considered unsafe. Whilst these products cannot be called non-compliant according to the Australian food standards, experts have raised concerns about them due to the levels of lead, copper and insecticide residues:  

·  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.

SBS found that such lapses in standards may be the result of systemic failings in product regulation, including:

· Inadequate or misleading labelling of expiry dates leading to the sale of products well beyond recommended consumption periods. 

·  Products recalled overseas for safety reasons can easily remain on sale in Australia due to issues in regulating parallel imports.

·   Only five per cent of packaged food imports to Australia are tested.

·   Australia’s standards found to be lower than comparable markets – with the USA rejecting many food products that are deemed acceptable for Australian import.

·    Local councils are responsible for enforcement of food safety regulations, and often only take action if a complaint is filed.


This story was originally published on Australia’s SBS website and is reproduced with due permission. You canread the complete story here on SBS 



Collection of watchdog reporting from India



CIJ is dedicated to ensure all content we publish is accurate. If you find any inaccuracies let us know.



CIJ welcomes articles, letters and comments from readers. Please write to


Your contribution to CIJ will help the cause of watchdog journalism in India.

Copyright © 2014. The Centre for Investigative Journalism, India. All Rights Reserved.

Designed & Developed By: ibex Solutions