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Results from the National Residue Control Plan Testing in 2021 Shows Continued High Levels of Compliance

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today released the results of testing carried out as part of the official monitoring programme under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) in 2021 with the overall rate of compliance remaining at an extremely high level of 99.89%.  The NRCP involves testing for banned substances, approved veterinary medicines, approved animal feed additives and environmental contaminants.

15,922 samples were tested in 2021, taken across the 8 food producing species which includes bovine, ovine/caprine, porcine, equine, poultry, farmed game, wild game and aquaculture as well. Milk, eggs and honey samples are also tested.  Most samples are taken in accordance with legislative and risk-based criteria designed to target animals or products that are more likely to contain illegal residues (‘targeted sampling’).  


Results show that 99.89% of samples tested negative for illegal residues and this is a continuation of the trend over a number of years of a general absence of residues in Irish food products.  This high level of compliance has been consistent since 2013. The Department acknowledges this as an indicator of the responsible approach adopted by the vast majority of farmers in their use of animal remedies and feed additives. This monitoring program helps to protect consumers and animals by ensuring a high degree of compliance with EU regulations.

In total, 18 samples were identified as non-compliant and of these the majority related to residues of authorised medicines. Risk assessments carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland in response to all non-compliant results, found that there was no unacceptable food safety risk to consumers, and none required a recall of products from the market.  Follow up on farm investigations by the Department took place for those positives where further risk analysis was deemed necessary. 

Results from the extensive testing under the NRCP in 2021 and follow-up investigations found no evidence of the illegal use of banned growth promoting hormones or other banned substances in food-producing animals in Ireland.  

Commenting on the release of these results, Minister McConalogue noted the high levels of compliance with residue limits among Ireland’s agri-food sector:

“These results, which are highly reassuring in terms of consumer safety, show that 99.9% of all samples are in compliance with residue limits under our National Residue Control Plan, are a key element in ensuring that Ireland’s reputation as a producer of high-quality safe food is maintained both in Ireland and throughout the world.  This allows us to export Irish agri-food products into markets all over the world, which as I witnessed myself in recent trade missions to the Far East, place a high value on knowing that Irish food products are a healthy and safe choice for their consumers.”


Note for Editors

The NRCP, which is approved by the European Commission, forms an important component of Ireland’s food safety controls and is implemented under a service contract with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).  The monitoring programme is part of the NRCP, which is one element of the Department’s overall National Control Plan, focuses on food of animal origin.

The 2021 Residues Report is available at: