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The National Measurement Institute (NMI) works with the Australian food sector on a range of metrology capabilities and services.

The main drivers of our work within the sector relate to:

  • food safety
  • nutrition and labelling
  • supporting research and good governance
  • aiding regulatory compliance

Our work    

We aim to deliver world class measurement solutions for a fair, safe, healthy and competitive Australia.

Our unique capabilities include:

  • certified reference materials relating to steroids, antibiotics, trace elements, DNA standards for pathogens and organic contaminants
  • proficiency testing programs relating to folic acid in flour, allergens in food, inorganic tests and pesticides in fruit and vegetables

Emerging work

As diets evolve and science is increasingly used in food production, we need to respond to new measurement challenges. 

We work with government, industry and academia to identify and measure:

  • food allergens
  • persistent organic pollutants in foods
  • nanomaterials and packaging quality
  • function and safety of food-related products, for example, migration of mineral oil hydrocarbons from recycled materials into food

Our emerging work also includes: 

  • measurements in new and novel areas such as food provenance and fraud
  • improved methods to accurately capture nutrients such as vitamin D and amino acids
  • capabilities to address ongoing food safety risks to Australian consumers through rapid response solutions with fit-for-purpose analytical methods for incidents and emergencies
  • analysis methods to ensure the safety, compliance and quality of hemp foods and medicinal cannabis

Research examples

Our work has direct implications for consumers, government, industry and the broader Australian economy.

We produce many influential scientific publications and presentations relating to food metrology. Our research is recognised globally.

Manuka honey

We chemically characterised manuka honey as part of a major study in 2016 on behalf of the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries.

This characterisation enables screening and certification of honey as genuine New Zealand manuka.

We play a leading role in supporting the Department of Agriculture to determine effective and practical approaches to screening honey products entering Australia. 

Bioanalysis of foods and raw materials

Our Bioanalysis Group offers a range of unique capabilities to identify species in rendered meats and bone meal.

We check for genetically modified materials in various commodities.

Our work includes screening stockfeed to minimise the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy – mad cow disease.

Food allergens

We have a strong history in the area of food allergen research and play a leading role in the international community.

We developed specialised methods for identifying the proteins responsible for allergic reactions to seafood. We have refined tests to detect allergens across a broad spectrum of foods.

We promote excellence in the field through the Allergen Testing Special Interest Group, Food Allergen Management Symposium and the Association of Official Analytical Chemists.

Core responsibilities

We have a number of key responsibilities in the food sector, including:

How we meet these responsibilities

Food safety is a primary concern to our stakeholders and a driving force behind the work we do.

We provide leading measurement services to ensure food safety, including testing for:

  • veterinary and other chemical residues in produce, dairy, meats and seafood
  • bio-toxins in seafood
  • food borne viruses

Trade requirements

We assist trade in the food sector by providing measurement services, reference materials, proficiency studies and contributing to accreditation activities.

Regulatory requirements and compliance

We assist food producers, growers, and retailers to meet measurement requirements.

We advise government regulators, monitors, enforcement agencies and standards bodies.

International food regulation

We take part in a number of international committees, such as the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling.

This ensures Australia’s international reputation in food measurement, safety and trade is upheld. 

Food innovation

Measurement is an important tool for primary producers, food processors and packaging suppliers. 

Our work helps to determine nutritional and functional parameters, productivity and yield outcomes.

Investigations of food 

We help processors, retailers and consumer groups identify the nature of food taints, spoilage and foreign matter. 

We profile food products for quality aspects such as flavour and odour.

NMI has a unique capability for investigating the presence of undeclared animal species in raw and processed meats, dairy and fish.

Consumer and media interest

We help consumer interest groups and Australian media to validate claims and follow up product safety.

Industry and other labs

We provide independent measurement verification and assurance to trading partners, regulators, industry and laboratories.

We are a peak body for advice to government in food metrology. We work with the following organisations:

Collaborating with industry

We play a leading role in the following major programs:

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Connect with us

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Last updated: 13 September 2019

Content ID: 64618