The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has released the results of testing carried out under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) in 2020, with the overall rate of compliance remaining at a high level of 99.88%. 

The NRCP covers testing for banned substances, approved veterinary medicines, approved animal feed additives and environmental contaminants.

16,196 samples were tested in 2020, taken across all eight food producing species – bovine, ovine/caprine, porcine, equine, poultry, farmed game, wild game and aquaculture – as well as milk, eggs and honey. 

Most samples are taken in accordance with criteria designed to target animals or products that are more likely to contain illegal residues (‘targeted sampling’), the department said. 

Results show that 99.88% of samples tested negative for illegal residues and this is a continuation of the trend over a number of years of a general absence of residues in Irish food products. 

This high level of compliance has been consistent going back to 2013 and the department said it welcomes this “as an indicator of the responsible approach adopted by the vast majority of farmers”.

This monitoring program helps to protect consumers and animals by ensuring a high degree of compliance with EU regulations.

20 samples non-compliant

In total, 20 samples were identified as non-compliant and of these, the majority related to residues of authorised medicines.

“Risk evaluations carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in response to all non-compliant results found that there was no unacceptable food safety risk to consumers, and none required a recall of products from the market,” the department said.

“Follow up on farm investigations by the department took place for those positives where further risk analysis was deemed necessary.

“Results from the extensive testing under the NRCP in 2020 and follow-up investigations found no evidence of the illegal use of banned growth promoting hormones or other banned substances in food-producing animals in Ireland.”