Guidance

Residues Surveillance

Requirement to analyse samples from food producing animals for residues of veterinary medicines and prohibited substances.

Legislation

Legislation requires the analyses of samples from food producing animals for residues of authorised veterinary medicines, prohibited substances and various contaminants. This requires an annual surveillance plan which is operated by the VMD.

The relevant legislation is:

  • The Animals and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residue Limits) (England and Scotland) Regulations 2015 which came into effect on 1 July 2015. This is a consolidated version of the 1997 Regulations and amendments, which covered Great Britain. For the text of the relevant Legislation go to Legislation.gov.uk
  • The Animals and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residue Limits) (Wales) Regulations 2019. For the text of the relevant Legislation go to Legislation.gov.uk
  • The Animals and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residues Limits) Regulation (Northern Ireland) 2016. For the text of the relevant Legislation go to Legislation.gov.uk

The programme covers

  • red meat
  • poultry meat
  • farmed fish
  • eggs
  • wild and farmed game
  • honey
  • milk

Substances to be tested

These are set out for each species in Annexes I and II of Council Directive 96/23/EC.

The annual plan for testing of samples which runs from January to December is discussed with representatives from the sample collection agencies, the laboratories and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Samples are collected by

  • Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) who collect red meat and poultry samples from carcasses from slaughterhouses
  • Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) who collect samples from live animals, animal feed, eggs and milk on farms
  • Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) who collect samples from fish farms in England and Wales
  • Marine Scotland (MS) who collect samples from fish farms in Scotland
  • National Bee Unit (NBU) who collect honey samples in England and Wales
  • Scottish Government (SG) who collect egg and honey samples from farms in Scotland
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) who collect samples in Northern Ireland

Sample analysis is done by

  • Fera Science Ltd who analyse the samples in Great Britain
  • Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) who analyse the samples in Northern Ireland

Non-compliant samples

When a sample is found to contain an unacceptable residue an investigation is carried out at the farm of origin to establish the cause.

For minor breaches of legislation the farmer and if appropriate, their vet will be given advice to help avoid this happening again.

The case may be referred to the Rural Payments Agency for further action.

More samples may be taken if there are concerns about the residue’s status of the animals, and movement restrictions on the animals may be imposed.

However, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) may take further action in serious cases which may lead to disposal of stock and prosecution.

Produce from the farmer will be targeted again for sampling.

Results

The results of the surveillance programme and a summary of non-compliant results and follow-up investigation are published bi-monthly.

Charges

The charges for residues surveillance are set out in GB legislation. The current charges are set out in the Residues Surveillance (Amendment) Regulations 2011.

The fees are charged for each industry sector (except honey) and cover the cost of running the programme. Charges are based on throughput of each species and production data and the information is submitted from various sources.

The frequency of invoicing varies per sector.

Contact

For further information email residues@vmd.gov.uk.

Published 17 December 2014
Last updated 3 February 2020 + show all updates
  1. Text combined with the Veterinary Residues Legislation guidance page and references to EU Commission removed

  2. Content reviewed with amendments

  3. First published.