Guidance for meat processors regarding per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)
See our FAQs on PFAS in livestock.
Agriculture Victoria is working with the community and other government agencies to ensure that the livestock sector understands issues relating to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs).
What is Agriculture Victoria doing about PFASs?
Agriculture Victoria is working closely with other government departments and agencies, and monitoring the situation. This includes providing assistance to relevant authorities undertaking human health risk assessments. Advice from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) informs the human health risk associated with consumption of livestock, and EPA communicates advice regarding potential impacts on personal consumption.
Decisions on retail food consumption are made by Victoria's Chief Health Officer in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in conjunction with relevant agencies. A recent literature review carried out by Agriculture Victoria indicated no evidence of negative impacts on livestock health from studies currently available worldwide.
What are PFASs?
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a group of human-made chemicals, widely used globally in a range of products since the 1950s.
Household and industrial applications of PFASs include non-stick cookware, food packaging, stain protection applications to fabric, furniture and carpet, and fire-fighting foams. PFASs are recognised as an international issue because of their persistence in the environment and in humans.
There has been no evidence of PFASs affecting the health or production of grazing livestock in Australia.
Does PFAS exposure of livestock need to be declared on the National Vendor Declaration?
Agriculture Victoria has consulted both SAFEMEAT and the company that delivers the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program and National Vendor Declarations (NVDs), the Integrity Systems Company, and confirmed there is currently no need for PFAS to be addressed on the LPA NVD.
The LPA NVD is the main document behind Australia's reputation as a reliable supplier of safe red meat to domestic and international markets.
Producers should consult with LPA if they have specific queries about the use of the NVD.
Is there a maximum level for PFASs in food sourced from livestock?
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has found no clear evidence of any adverse health effects of PFASs in human populations. On this basis, a regulatory approach has not been recommended for PFASs in the general food supply, and this is consistent with the findings of other international agencies.
There is no maximum level for PFASs for food products sourced from livestock in Australia or any other country worldwide. However, since these chemicals remain in humans and the environment for many years, it is recommended that as a precaution human exposure to PFAS be minimised wherever possible.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand has developed non-regulatory 'trigger points' for livestock products including meat, offal and milk, as well as seafood, fruits and vegetables. The trigger points are used to identify whether further investigation may be required if PFAS is detected in foods.
Do PFASs affect the sale of livestock products such as meat?
There are currently no restrictions on domestic or international trade in agricultural products in relation to PFASs.
- FAQs on PFASs in livestock
- PFAS and human health information from DHHS
- PFAS in Victoria, including assessment and management from the Environment Protection Authority Victoria
The Department of Defence is currently investigating three sites in Victoria with potential PFAS contamination, including Bandiana Military Area, HMAS Cerberus and RAAF Base East Sale. Further details on these investigations is available at http://www.defence.gov.au/Environment/PFAS/.