Five percent of shipments of the imported canned tuna at the centre of a Sydney food poisoning scare were being checked at the border.
While officials usually test 100 percent of consignments of high-risk products (including tuna), the rate of checks on John Bull tuna had been reduced to the minimum level because of the good compliance history of its manufacturer, Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Seven customers of Sydney's Soul Origin cafe last month reportedly became ill with symptoms of scombroid poisoning after consuming salad containing the tuna, which is canned in Thailand.
The 5 per cent inspection rate for the tuna is the same level of surveillance that was being applied to the supposedly low-risk frozen berries from China which were linked to more than 20 cases of hepatitis A last month.
A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce confirmed the rate of inspections for high-risk food could be reduced to 5 per cent once the manufacturer established a good history of compliance. The spokesman said the inspection rates were set in legislation, and were increased to 100 per cent following any failed tests.
Greens agriculture spokeswoman Rachel Siewert said it was a "massive concern" that 95 per cent of consignments of a high-risk product had been entering the country unchecked.
"This imported product has slipped through the cracks and severely impacted the health of Australians because the manufacturer had good compliance for an extended period of time," Siewert said.