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UK Analysis Finds Little Cause for Concern

04 October 2013

UK - Out of more than 31,000 samples and more than 34,000 analytical tests for residues in meat and fish products taken in the UK last year, just five incidents raised concerns and according to the Veterinary Residues Committee there was negligible concern for human health.

The Statutory Surveillance Scheme took 31,612 samples, which were used for 34,386 analyses.

There were 106 residues detected in excess of statutory or other action limits in 97 samples.

Of these, 60 were either environmental contaminants or substances, which occur naturally in animals. 37 samples (0.1 per cent) contained residues of the pharmacologically active substances for which they were tested.

Follow-up investigations were carried out and in 17 cases, where causes could be established, they showed that the rules for use of the veterinary medicinal product involved had not been fully followed.

There was however, no risk to human health.

Another five cases involved the presence of phenylbutazone, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is not authorised for use in any food-producing animal.

The substance was detected in horse kidney samples tested as part of a NSAID screen, at concentrations of 4.9, 8.2, 12, 49 and 1200 μg/kg, respectively.

“The VRC is reassured that with a very large and wideranging programme of surveillance only those five results of concern to consumer health were detected,” the committee said in its annual report.

“Overall, the Statutory Surveillance Scheme results demonstrate that when used as directed, veterinary medicinal products did not result in residues of human health concern in 2012, and that consumers can continue to have confidence in purchasing UK produced foodstuffs of animal origin.”

In the Non-Statutory Scheme 823 samples were collected and 1,811 analyses carried out in products that were imported into the UK.

No residues have been detected above the Maximum Residue Limit or Action Level in the 2012 programme.

“No non-compliant residues were confirmed in imported food samples for 2012, although two fish samples contained residues of leucomalachite green at

concentrations of 0.59 μg/kg and 1.3 μg/kg respectively,” the report says.

“These were below the Minimum Required Performance Limit (MRPL) of 2 μg/kg (for the sum of malachite green and leucomalachite green).”

The committee report says that residues of substances not authorised for use in the EU – notably leucomalachite green - continue to be found in imported fish from third countries.

“We hold the view that surveillance of imported foods for residues of medicines used in countries outside of the EU must be maintained, and coordination improved, to strengthen Non-Statutory Surveillance results with results from other sources,” the VRC said.

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