Data on the presence of residues of veterinary medicines and contaminants in animals and animal-derived food in Europe show high rates of compliance with recommended safety levels in the European Union, according to a recent report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that summarizes monitoring data collected in 2018.
The percentage of samples that exceeded maximum levels was 0.3%, EFSA said, noting that this figure is within the range of 0.25-0.37% reported over the previous 10 years.
Compared to 2017, non-compliance increased slightly for antithyroid agents and steroids, EFSA said. Small decreases were noted for antibacterials, other veterinary drugs (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and other substances and environmental contaminants (such as chemical elements and mycotoxins).
EFSA reported that 657,818 samples were checked by 28 EU member states in 2018.
The data are available on Knowledge Junction, EFSA’s curated, open repository, which was set up to improve transparency, reproducibility and reusability of evidence in food and feed safety risk assessments.
According to EFSA, food-producing animals may be treated with veterinary medicines to prevent or cure disease, but these substances may leave residues in food derived from treated animals.
Food may also contain residues of pesticides and contaminants to which animals have been exposed. For this reason, EU countries must implement residue monitoring plans to detect the illegal use or misuse of authorized veterinary medicines in food-producing animals and investigate the reasons for residue violations, EFSA noted.