Contaminants in food

Contaminants found in foods sometimes have the potential to affect our health. Learn how contaminants like chemicals get into food and how exposure is kept at safe levels.

How do contaminants get in our food?

Contaminants can be natural or man-made and can enter our food in several ways.

They may:

  • be found in the environment where food grows, such as lakes and seawater where fish are found
  • leach into foods from packaging, such as plastic packaging
  • be caused by food production and processing methods
  • be added illegally during production.

How are contaminants in food kept at safe levels?

Contaminants are regulated to minimise any risk to consumers. Residue monitoring programmes and diet surveys confirm New Zealand food remains safe. All food produced and sold in New Zealand must be safe and suitable to eat.

Food monitoring and surveillance

Find out more

How we monitor food safety

Who to contact

If you have questions about chemicals and contaminants in food, email

Last reviewed: