We inspect and test food imports under our Imported Food Inspection Scheme.
Our sampling procedure makes sure the correct number of samples are taken from a consignment of food when it is referred for testing.
The rate of sampling we apply is set out in the Imported Food Control Regulations 2019. The number of samples taken depends on how many batches (types of food) there are within the consignment and the number of lots in each batch.
When a consignment of food is referred for inspection, we work out how many different batches of food there are within the consignment.
We may look at:
- packaging size (for example, a consignment of cheese may include different portion sizes of a cheese type)
- packaging type (for example, the food consignment may include tuna in cans and in plastic pouches)
- the form of the product (for example, the food consignment may include packaged whole legs of ham and sliced ham).
The sample size depends on and the number of lots or packages per batch of food.
We need to make sure the sample of food we take is representative of the lot and is enough for laboratories to do analytical testing.
The sampling plans we use generally require 5 x 100-gram samples from each lot to be taken at random. If appropriate, we will take a whole package or unit of the food item (for example, can of tuna). If the food unit is much larger than required (for example, a large wheel of cheese or whole fish) we apply a specific sampling technique. This makes sure a representative portion of the unit is taken while maintaining the integrity of the remaining product.
For some tests we take more than 5 samples:
- Salmonella testing of some products requires 10 sample units per lot (for example, coconut, powdered infant formula)
- Aflatoxin testing of peanut and pistachio products requires 20 sample units per lot.
We may ask you to help us with sampling large units of food. For example, large wheels of cheese or frozen whole tuna or meat products.
Make sure there is someone available to help during the inspection. They may need to help operate equipment to cut or saw a large food item.
Your Food Control Certificate will provide details and instructions.
Food of a particular kind made or packed in a distinct manner which may include one or more lots.
Food of a particular kind that comprises one or more batches imported by the same owner at the same time and described by a single line in an import entry.
A quantity of food of a particular kind prepared or packed under essentially the same conditions. This is generally from a particular preparation or package unit and during a particular time (usually within 24 hours).
A container of food not separated from the food by any intervening covering except lining material.