The number of animals in 2014 that tested positive for residues was down on the number tested in 2013, however some 13 animals tested positive for the potential use of growth promoters.

The figures released by the Department of Agriculture show that 13 bovine and farm game samples tested positive for the substance, Thiouracil, which may indicate the potential use of growth promoters covered by the EU Hormone Ban.

Some 0.22% of animals in 2014 tested positive under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP), figures from the Department show.

This latest figure is down marginally from the results in 2013 when 0.24% of samples tested positive.

Last year a total of 19,095 samples were taken from all eight food producing species, as well as from milk, eggs and honey, it says.

The overall level of positives across all substances was 42, or 0.22%, which the Department says shows a continuation of the trend over a number of years of a general absence of residues in Irish food products.

In 2014, some 24 bovine samples tested were non-compliant, nine of which tested positive for antibiotic residues. This figure is down from 2013, where 28 bovine samples were non-compliant.

According to the Department, this is comparable with the levels (0.2%) detected in 2013, 2012 and 2011.

It says that these consistently low levels reflect the responsible approach adopted by the vast majority of farmers.

The NRCP, which is approved by the European Commission, forms an important component of Ireland’s food safety controls and is implemented under a service contract with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

The NRCP, which is one element of the Department’s overall National Control Plan, focuses on food of animal origin.

The extensive testing under the NRCP indicates the absence of illegal administration of banned growth promoting hormones and other banned substances to food-producing animals in Ireland.

Overall the small number of positives detected related mainly to residues of authorised medicines, the Department says.