FSA's work with residues advisor ensures food safety

Tuesday 11 September 2007

The Veterinary Residues Committee (VRC) 2006 Annual Report on the surveillance of veterinary residues in food in the UK is now available online. The report details the checks that have been done for a range of residues of veterinary medicines in food for human consumption.

The Food Standards Agency acts as a watchdog to ensure that food safety is given high priority during the authorisation and monitoring for veterinary medicines. This ensures any residues in food are kept as low as practically possible and within safe limits.

The Agency contributes to the UK surveillance programme overseen by the VRC. Two key examples in the report highlight this contribution:
  • In 2005 concerns over the use of fumigants - used by honey producers to sterilse empty bee hives - came to the Agency’s attention. The UK’s surveillance programme then took account of these. The surveillance results in the 2006 report highlighted a quality issue in New Zealand, over the use of a chemical called1,4-dichlorobenzene. As a result of these findings, the New Zealand authorities promptly introduced measures to ensure honey exports to the EU complied with UK quality requirements.
  • The use of crystal violet, a chemical dye used to illegally treat fish, was recommended for inclusion in the UK surveillance programme by the Agency, following findings from Germany. Survey findings are set out in the report. The Agency has cooperated with the VRC in considering other possible dyes that might be used illegally as veterinary medicines. This ‘horizon scanning’ helps develop future surveillance programmes.
The VRC is an independent advisory committee overseeing UK surveillance of residues of veterinary medicines in home and imported foods. It advises the Chief Executives of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Food Standards Agency on programmes and the importance of its results. Agency staff attend VRC meetings as advisors and the Agency nominates a member of the committee.

link to website