Tests carried out in 2021 under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) have shown that 99.89% of samples taken were compliant, and contained no evidence of approved or banned contaminants.

15,922 samples were tested last year over eight food-producing species including bovine; ovine; porcine; poultry; equine; farmed game; wild game; and aquaculture.

Milk, eggs and honey samples were also tested during the process, in line with guidelines on ‘target sampling’, which aim to investigate foods that are more likely to contain illegal residues.

Only 18 of these samples returned a non-compliant result, the majority of which were contaminated with authorised medicines, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Despite their contamination, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) concluded in an investigation that the residues did not pose “an unacceptable food safety risk to consumers, and none required a recall of products from the market”.

The department stated that neither the NRCP testing or any follow-up investigations found any evidence of the illegal use of banned, growth-promoting hormones or any other substances which are banned for food-producing animals.

Welcoming the findings, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said that the high level of compliance represents a consistent trend since 2013.

“These results, which are highly reassuring in terms of consumer safety, are a key element in ensuring that Ireland’s reputation as a producer of high-quality safe food is maintained both in Ireland and throughout the world.

“This allows us to export Irish agri-food products into markets all over the world, which as I witnessed myself in recent trade missions to the Far East, place a high value on knowing that Irish food products are a healthy and safe choice for their consumer,” he said.

The DAFM also stated that the strong compliance indicates that the vast majority of farmers are acting responsibly in their use of animal remedies, medications and feed additives.