The results of testing carried out under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) in 2016 have been released by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – with the overall rate of compliance remaining at an extremely high level of 99.8%.

In 2016, 19,250 samples were tested across all eight of the food-producing species, along with honey, eggs and milk, the department said this week.

A total of 99.8% tested negative for any residues; this continues a trend of a general absence of residues in Irish food products over a number of years, the department added.

This level of compliance has been consistent for a number of years, stretching back to 2013. The department said it welcomed this as an indicator that the vast majority of farmers have adopted a responsible approach with residues.

In terms of the other 0.2%, 40 samples were non-compliant – of these, most related to residues of authorised medicines.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland performed risk evaluations in response to each result and it was concluded that there was no unacceptable food safety risk to consumers; none of these evaluations resulted in a recall of products from the market.

For the first time since 2011, a case of Clenbuterol was detected. This was as a result of a targeted sample taken from a bovine animal on-farm, which tested positive for the illegal substance.

The farm in question was restricted while an investigation (including additional testing) was undertaken. While the evidence suggests that this was an isolated case and confined to one holding, the department has stated that it has increased its surveillance – which included additional testing at farm level.

While there has been no further evidence of such illegal treatment detected, the department has announced that it will continue to be vigilant.