New Zealand Total Diet Survey
New Zealand conducts a comprehensive Total Diet Survey (TDS) once every 5-6 years. It is a major undertaking both in terms of resource commitment, planning and execution but the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) considers the benefits are significant. The NZTDS is seen as an essential vehicle for gaining exposure data for risk assessment and for building consumer confidence in the food supply.
The primary focus of the NZTDS is to assess exposure to chemical residues, contaminant elements and selected nutrients, from approximately 120 representative foods, across the average diet of different age-sex groups within the New Zealand population.
A distinguishing characteristic of TDSs, including the NZTDS, is that foods are analyzed on an 'as consumed' basis (i.e. banana, peeled; meat, cooked). Thus providing an assessment of any potential risk to the consumer at the point of consumption of the food. As such, the NZTDS contrasts with commodity based surveillance or monitoring programmes, which analyze foods as they are available for sale or 'as produced' i.e. bananas, whole with skin; meat, raw.
The NZTDS contributes not only to New Zealand risk assessment activities but also to international commitments and obligations, such as the World Health Organization Global Environmental Monitoring Systems Food programme (WHO GEMS/Food), Codex Alimentarius and the WHO/FAO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), and WHO/FAO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR).
The survey is conducted in accordance with the recommendations of the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues and in agreement with the objectives of the Joint FAO/WHO Global Environmental Monitoring Systems (GEMS; FAO/UNEP/WHO, 1985). The NZTDS is recommended by WHO as a template for developing countries initiating their first TDSs.