Residues Surveillance

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

A European legislative requirement (Council Directive 96/23/EC) commits member states to analyse samples from food producing animals for residues of veterinary medicines and prohibited substances.

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 is discussed with representatives from the sample collection agencies, the laboratories and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The final plan is approved by the European Commission.

Samples are collected by

  • 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 or the vet will be given advice to help avoid this happening again.

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


The results of the surveillance programme are published bi-monthly.


The charges for residues surveillance are set out in UK legislation. The current charges are set out in 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.

It is the responsibility of food business operators who run poultry slaughterhouses to complete a self declaration using the poultry throughput form.

The frequency of invoicing varies per sector.


For further information email

Published 17 December 2014
Last updated 1 December 2016 + show all updates
  1. Content reviewed with amendments
  2. First published.