The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today released the results of testing carried out under the National Residue Control Plan (NCRP) for 2010.
The NCRP, which is an important component of the Department’s food safety controls, is implemented under a service contract with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and focuses on food of animal origin.
The 2010 results re-enforce the reputation of Irish food by demonstrating the general absence of residues. The level of positives detected in 2010 was 0.26% from over 23,000 samples This represents a continuation of the favourable trend over a number of years (2009 – 0.33%, 2008 – 0.52%) and reflects the responsible approach adopted by the vast majority of farmers, combined with a vigilant approach by the Department. The small number of positives which were detected relates mainly to residues of authorised medicines and, following risk evaluations by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, it was found that none presented a specific food safety risk to consumers and therefore none required recall of food from the market.
Notwithstanding the very positive situation, as evidenced by the results of the Residue Control Plan, farmers are advised to exercise vigilance to ensure that post-treatment withdrawal periods are observed, particularly through maintenance of a high standard of record-keeping, which itself is mandatory, both under medicines legislation and as part of compliance with Single Farm Payment requirements. Processors also have a critical part to play in terms of verifying the status of primary products purchased from their suppliers. The industry is reminded of the importance of developing Ireland’s export-oriented food industry in line with Food Harvest 2020 and the production of wholesome, residue-free food is a pre-requisite to this.
While the issue of antimicrobial resistance is a multi-faceted issue and also involves human medicines, all stakeholders in the industry, particularly farmers and veterinary practitioners, have a responsibility to ensure that the use of antibiotics in animals is kept to an absolute minimum and that prudent-use policies are followed. All antibiotic medicines are subject to veterinary prescription control in Ireland and this imposes a particular responsibility on the veterinary profession to work with farmer clients in encouraging good management practices and vaccination policies so that the need for antibiotic treatments is minimised. The common objective must be to avoid using antibiotics where at all possible so that society can continue to have the benefits of these life-saving products into the future.