There is a general absence of residues in Irish food products. This is according to testing carried out by the National Residue Control Plan (NCRP) for 2012, which was released in an report this morning by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. It tested 20,000 food samples in 2012 for residue control and it said the results show a continuation of the trend over a number of years.

The NCRP, which was approved by the European Commission, is an important component of the department’s food safety controls and is implemented under a service contract with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). The NCRP, which is one element of the department’s overall National Control Plan focuses on food of animal origin.

With more than  20,000 samples tested in 2012, the results show a continuation of the trend over a number of years of a general absence of residues in Irish food products.  Some 44 (0.2 per cent) samples out of 20,580 tested were positive, which reflects the responsible approach adopted by the vast majority of farmers. This compares with positive levels of 0.2 per cent in 2011, 0.26 per cent in 2010 and 0.33 per cent in 2009.

The extensive testing under the plan indicates the absence of illegal administration of banned growth promoting hormones or other banned substances to food-producing animals in Ireland. Furthermore, in terms of the main meat producing species, no positives arising from use of authorised medicines were detected in pigs or poultry.  In the case of a small number of antibiotic positives in the bovine (12) and ovine sectors (1), the department’s controls at the plants concerned, prevented entry into the food chain.  Milk produced from Irish herds was also found to be residue-free in 2012.

In the equine sector, in response to increasing throughput in 2012, the department implemented increased monitoring under the Plan for phenlybutazone (an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat lameness).

Of more than 300 samples tested in 2012, none was found to be positive. In the context of the controversy earlier this year, arising from the mislabelling of meat products, DAFM further significantly increased monitoring for phenlybutazone – of 841 samples taken during an intensive programme conducted in March as part of an EU-wide programme, 1 sample was found to be positive and the animal concerned was excluded from the food chain.

The department is continuing with enhanced monitoring during 2013. The 2012 Residues Report is available here.

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