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Results of 2006 National Residue Monitoring Plan

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food today released the results of tests carried out under the National Residue Monitoring Plan for 2006, which it implements under Service Contract to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

During 2006, some 28,000 samples were tested following sampling on both a targeted and suspect basis from 11 domestic food-producing species and from products imported from Third Countries.  The tests covered 18 distinct residue groups (each residue group is in turn comprised of a number of sub-groups) which fall into three broad categories: banned substances such as growth-promoting hormones and beta-agonists, approved veterinary medicines (these usually arise where animals enter the food chain before expiry of the prescribed withdrawal period for the medicine concerned) and finally, environmental contaminants.

As regards domestic production, the overall level of positive samples in 2006 was 0.17%.  This welcome outcome continues the trend of very low levels of residues in Irish produced food over a number of years (0.20% in 2005, 0.39% in 2004, 0.36% in 2003).  No sample of food (bovine, ovine, poultry & porcine meat, aquaculture and honey) imported from 3rd Countries in 2006 was residue positive.

No residues of growth promoters covered by the EU hormone ban or other banned substances were found in 2006, notwithstanding a continued high level of monitoring both at farm and factory levels.  Monitoring in this area covered the main food producing species (bovines, pigs, sheep and poultry) and also, farmed deer, farmed fish and horses.  The consistent absence over a number of years of banned hormonal growth promoters in Irish beef and other meat, as indicated by these results, is reassuring for consumers and reflects the results of rigorous enforcement by the Department in past years and the responsible approach adopted by farmers.  The Department will, however, continue to be very vigilant in this respect.

In the meat sector, all species are tested at slaughterhouses for residues of banned substances, veterinary medicinal products and environmental contaminants.  For substances authorised for use in veterinary medicines, tolerance levels in the form of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) are set at National, EU and International level.  In the case of antibiotics, the Department can now, on the basis of improving analytical capability, identify both the substance and its level, which facilitates more effective follow-up action.  Animals are generally tested using standard selection criteria.  This system is, however, complemented by additional targeted testing. 

In the case of antibiotic medicines, where testing continued at levels well in excess of those required by EU obligations, the overall positive level across all species in 2006 was 0.19% (i.e. 31 positives out of 16,129 samples analysed).  This is below the level recorded in 2005 (i.e. 69 positives out of 33,321 samples) and continues the downward trend of recent years.  The bovine sector accounted for 18 of these positive samples: 17 of the samples were detected in animals that were detained on suspicion by the Department's veterinary inspectors in slaughter plants.  By contrast, only one (0.04%) of the 2,213 bovines tested using standard selection criteria, showed positive for antibiotic residues, which is a more representative picture of the bovine sector as a whole and is below the level of 2005 (i.e. 0.3%).  In the pig sector, where 9,024 tests were carried out for antibiotics, the level of positives at 0.1% in 2006 reflects a continuing downward trend (0.3% in 2004 and 0.5% in 2002).  In the ovine sector, two non-compliant results for antibiotics were identified from 1,012 samples (0.2%).

Of 1,376 samples taken in total in the poultry sector, 14 tested positive for residues of anticoccidials, a feed additive used to maintain healthy flocks.  The Department has thoroughly investigated the reasons underlying the presence of residues of these feed additives and has consulted the (FSAI) in relation to any food safety issues arising.  Although the FSAI and the Department are satisfied on the basis of risk assessment that a particular risk to consumers of poultry meat does not arise at low incidences and low levels, they are committed to taking action to ensure that the industry effectively addresses the issue.

In the aquaculture sector, the National Residues Monitoring Plan was managed by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (DCMNR) in 2006 and monitoring is implemented by the Marine Institute (MI).  In 2006, in excess of 700 tests were carried out on 161 samples of farmed finfish for a range of residues.  No positive results were detected in the National Monitoring Programme for farmed finfish in 2006, which is an improvement on the already low levels found in recent years (0.48% in 2003, 0.23% in 2004 and 0.09% in 2005). 

A comprehensive Residue Monitoring Programme, which takes account of the 2006 results, is continuing in 2007.

17 July, 2007

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. Under relevant EU legislation (Council Directive 96/23/EC) each member state is required to implement residue surveillance plans and to submit their programmes annually to the European Commission for approval. Ireland's Residue Monitoring Programme for 2006 was fully approved by the European Commission.  Third Countries wishing to export animal products to the EU are similarly required to satisfy the European Commission that their residue surveillance measures provide equivalent guarantees for EU consumers.
  2. The national legal basis for the Residue Plan is provided for in the European Communities (Control of Animal Remedies and their Residues) Regulations 2007.  Arising from a technical finding by the Supreme Court in March 2007, the legislation governing approval and distribution of medicines and residue surveillance was re-instated to ensure a sound legal basis for the control regime in the interest of continued protection of public health and animal health and welfare.
  3. Implementation of the Plan involves taking samples from food producing species at both farm and primary processing plant levels.  Samples are generally taken in accordance with criteria designed to target animals or products, which are more likely to contain illegal residues.  However, the results also reflect the outcome of sampling conducted in specific cases where the presence of illegal residues was suspected by Department inspectors, for example, on the basis of the ante or post-mortem examinations of animals at slaughterhouses.  Where a positive result is detected in the laboratory, a follow-up investigation is conducted at the farm of origin with a view to taking the necessary enforcement measures up to and including legal action, where appropriate.
  4. In addition to official testing carried out by the Departments of Agriculture, Food & Fisheries and Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, primary processors in the red and white meat sectors and also in the milk sector are required to carry out residue testing under legislation put in place in 1998.  Processors are required to submit to the Department for approval annual residue monitoring plans.  Under this regime, processors are required to apply a progressively increasing scale of testing to suppliers of residue positive animals or milk.
  5. An overview of the results in tabular format is given in Table 1 attached, while Table 2 focuses on the positive results.
TABLE 1
RESULTS OF DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES & FOOD RESIDUE MONITORING PROGRAMME FOR_2005

 Group A Prohibited Substances
Substance Bovine Pigs Sheep/Goats Poultry Milk Horses Aquaculture Eggs Farm Game Wild Game Honey
Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos.
A1 240 57 21 71 - 7 - - 2 - -
A2 250 42 22 34 15 5 - - 2 - -
A3 1743 219 133 45 16 10 53 - 2 - -
A4 344 51 73 68 - 3 - - 2 - -
A5 1162 105 112 76 - 28 51 - 3 - -
A6 856 268 172 278 238 22 51 88 6 - 26
Total No. Analyses 4595 742 533 572 269 75 155 88 17 - 26

 Group B - Veterinary Drugs and Contaminants

 B 1 - Antibacterial Substances
Substance Bovine Pigs Sheep/Goats Poultry Milk Horses Aquaculture Eggs Farm Game Wild Game Honey
Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos.
B1 5217 18 9024 11 1012 2 332 - 246 - 42 - 104 - 122 - 17 - - - 13 -

B 2 - Other Veterinary Drugs
Substance Bovine Pigs Sheep/Goats Poultry Milk Horses Aquaculture Eggs Farm Game Wild Game Honey
Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos.
B2a 601 - 155 - 279 1 93 - 278 - 38 - 104 - - - 12 - - - - -
B2b 122 - 34 - 79 - 221 14 - - 9 - - - 57 1 12 - - - - -
B2c 99 - 42 - 67 - 41 - - - 19 - 104 - - - 6 - - - 26 -
B2d 36 - 65 - 15 - - - - - 16 - - - - - - - - - - -
B2e 170 - 56 - 37 - 20 - 78 - 59 - - - - - 2 - - - - -
B2f 129 - 186 - 50 - - - 95 - 9 - 104 - - - - - - - - -
Total No. Analyses 1157 - 538 - 527 1 375 14 451 - 150 - 312 - 57 1 32 - - - 26 -

B 3 - Other Substances and Environmental Contaminants
Substance Bovine Pigs Sheep/Goats Poultry Milk Horses Aquaculture Eggs Farm Game Wild Game Honey
Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos.
B3a 57 - 41 1 37 - 24 - 60 - 4 - 21 - 11 - 6 - - - 4 -
B3b 59 - 33 - 39 1 - - 60 - 4 - - - - - - - - - 6 -
B3c 141 - 29 - 43 - 46 - 55 - 9 - 21 - - - 16 - 100 - - -
B3d 32 - 20 - 16 - 27 - 53 - - - 7 - - - - - - - 10 -
B3e - - - - - - - - - - - - 85 - - - - - - - - -
Total No. Analyses 289 - 123 1 135 1 97 - 228 - 17 - 134 - 11 - 22 - 100 - 20 -

 OVERALL RESULT - TOTAL GROUP A + GROUP B
Substance Bovine Pigs Sheep/Goats Poultry Milk Horses Aquaculture Eggs Farm Game Wild Game Honey
Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos. Num. Pos.
Overall Total Analyses 11258 18 10427 12 2207 4 1376 14 1194 - 284 - 705 - 278 1 88 - 100 - 85 -

 Notes

(a)See over for key to each substance sub-group
(b)Some positives are from screening analysis
(c)Results are from routine targeted and on suspicion testing
(d)Results reflect testing at primary processing plants and, where appropriate, on farm.
(e)It is not mandatory to test for all substances in every species/product
(f)In the case of aquaculture, 181 fish were tested in total.

Group A - (Prohibited Substances) Substances having anabolic effect and unauthorised substances

A1 -  Stilbenes, stilbene derivatives, and their salts and esters
A2 -  Antithyroid agents
A3 -  Steroids
A4 -  Resorcylic acid lactones including zeranol
A5 -  Beta-agonists
A6 -  Compounds included in Annex IV to Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2377/90 of 26 June 1990 (i.e. for which no maximum     residue level could be set).

Group B - Veterinary drugs and contaminants

B1 - Antibacterial substances, including sulphonomides, quinolones


B2  - Other veterinary drugs


B2a    Anthelminitics
B2b    Anticoccidials, including nitroimidazoles
B2c    Carbamates and pyrethroids
B2d    Sedatives
B2e    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
B2f    Other pharmacologically active substances

B3 - Other substances and environmental contaminants

B3a     Organochlorine compounds
B3b     Organophosphorus compound
B3c     Chemical elements
B3d     Mycotoxins
B3e     Others

TABLE 2

Details of Positive Results
Species Total No. Of Samples* Total No. of Positives*
Farmed Fish 705 None
Bovine 11,258 18 Antibiotics
Eggs 278 1 Anticoccidial (Nicarbazin)
Equine 284 None
Farmed Game (Deer) 88 None
Honey 85 None
Milk 1,194 None
Ovine 2,207 2 Antibiotics, 1 Benzimidazole & 1 Organophosphate(Diazinan)
Porcine 10,427 11 Antibiotics & 1 Organochlorine (Lindane)
Poultry 1,376 14 Anticoccodials (Nicarbazin)
Wild Game 100 None
Grand totals 28,002 49

  • Numbers relate to samples taken on a routine targeted basis and also on suspicion, including follow-up investigations.

Date Released: 17 July 2007