Just 0.24% of animals test positive for residues

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today released the results of testing carried out under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) in 2013 with the rate of positives remaining low at 0.2% of all samples tested.

According to the Department nearly 20,000 samples were tested in 2013, taken across all eight food producing species as well as milk, eggs and honey. It says some 46 (0.2%) out of 19,869 tested positive which shows a continuation of the trend over a number of years of a general absence of residues in Irish food products. Positive levels in 2012 and 2011 were also 0.2%, with levels of 0.26% in 2010 and 0.33% in 2009.

It comments that these consistently low levels reflect the responsible approach adopted by the vast majority of farmers. According to the report, the positive results were attributed to dietary factors of natural/environmental factors.

The extensive testing under the NRCP demonstrates an absence of illegal administration of banned growth promoting hormones and other banned substances, with the small number of positives detected relating mainly to residues of authorised medicines.

In the case of the small number of antibiotic positives in the bovine (8) and ovine (2) sectors, the Department says its controls at the plants concerned, prevented entry into the food chain.

In the equine sector, Ireland’s residue testing programme was also pivotal in providing reassurance to consumers on food safety, following the discovery in January 2013 by the FSAI meat authenticity survey of the presence of horse DNA in frozen beef burgers.

In light of the controversy, the Department increased its rate of monitoring under the NRP. Testing was further significantly increased in the context of an EU-wide control programme and also through a National enhanced Bute testing programme for horses destined for the food chain. Under these programmes, an additional 1,614 horses were tested for Bute in 2013. One sample was found to be positive and this animal was excluded from the food chain.