PFAS in food and water
Australia has an effective, robust food regulation system in place to ensure the safety of our food.
Where food safety regulators consider action is required to manage exposure through food, maximum limits for contaminants in the environment are set. To date no maximum limits have been set for PFAS contaminants in food by Australian regulators nor internationally. Consequently there are no current restrictions on domestic or international trade in agricultural or aquaculture products.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has developed non-regulatory ‘trigger points’ for livestock products including meat, offal and milk, as well as seafood, fruits and vegetables. The trigger points may be used by government authorities to identify whether further investigation may be required if PFAS are detected in analysed foods.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has responded to concerns raised in the media about PFAS in livestock and the advice given to local producers living near PFAS contaminated sites.
The Australian Government Department of Health, FSANZ and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have developed Health Based Guidance Values (HBGVs) for PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS. They are for use in site investigations and human health risk assessments in Australia. The health based guidance values are protective of human health; are a precautionary measure for use when conducting site investigations; and are to assist in providing advice to affected communities on how to minimise exposure to PFAS.
The HBGVs indicate the amount of a chemical in food or drinking water that a person can consume on a regular basis over a lifetime without any significant risk to health. They can also be used to calculate guideline values for certain exposure scenarios (such as those derived for drinking water or recreational water) to set a level or threshold of a substance that is protective of human health.
FSANZ has recommended HBGVs for PFOS and PFOA in the form of a tolerable daily intake (TDI). A TDI is a level of daily oral exposure over a lifetime that is considered to be without significant health risk for humans. Based on FSANZ’s recommended TDI, the NHMRC has issued drinking water quality and recreational water quality guideline values for use in site investigations in Australia. These guideline values represent levels at which the chemicals may be present in drinking or recreational water without presenting a risk to public health.
SAFEMEAT has published a factsheet on PFAS for producers. SAFEMEAT is a partnership between the red meat and livestock industry and state and federal governments of Australia to ensure products achieve the highest standards of safety and hygiene from the farm to the consumer.
- Health Based Guidance Values for PFAS
- FSANZ video on Chemicals in Food
- Australian Drinking Water Guidelines
- Guidance on PFAS in recreational water (PDF)
- PFAS Guidance for recreational water - FAQs
- Visit our PFAS Advice page for who to contact regarding any specific advice in your state or territory.