Food-producing animals may be treated with veterinary medicines to prevent or cure disease. These substances may leave residues in the food from treated animals. Food may also contain residues of pesticides and contaminants to which animals have been exposed to. In all cases, the levels of residues in food should not harm the consumer.
EU countries must implement residue monitoring plans to detect the illegal use or misuse of authorised veterinary medicines in food producing animals and investigate the reasons for residue violations
Non-EU countries exporting to the EU must implement a residue monitoring plan which guarantees an equivalent level of food safety
I. Scientific advice
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for assessing Maximum Residue Limits for veterinary medicinal products marketed in the EU.
EU countries must monitor food of animal origin for the presence of residues. The legislation governing the design and implementation of residue monitoring plans is as follows:
Directive 96/23/EC - Annexes are in force and establish the sampling frequency and range of substances to be tested for.
Decision 97/747/EC - Annexes are in force and establish additional sampling frequencies for milk, eggs, honey, rabbits and game meat
The transitional provision for Directive 96/23/EC and Decision 97/747/EC finishes on 14 December 2022.
Implementation of National Residue Monitoring Plans
EU annual reports on the results from the monitoring of veterinary medicinal product residues and other substances in live animals and animal products:
III. Laboratory analysis
Specific EU legislation outlines the laboratory analysis and correct interpretation of results.
Regulation (EU) 2021/808 establishes:
Criteria and procedures to validate analytical methods, ensuring the quality and comparability of the results of official laboratories
Common criteria for the interpretation of test results
Sampling procedures and official sample treatment
Guidelines for implementation of Regulation (EU) 2021/808:
Guidelines for the validation of screening methods for residues of veterinary medicines (under revision, applicable for points 2 and 3 of the Annex 1 to Decision 2002/657/EC).
IV. Non-EU imports
EU rules affect trading partners worldwide. Non-EU countries wanting to export to the EU must ensure the same level of food/feed safety as that of the EU. For more detailed information, please refer to the Manual on residue requirements for non-EU countries exporting to the EU. This Manual is also available in ES, PT and FR language when you click on the speech bubble beside the link.
EU Reference Laboratories
European Reference laboratories coordinate the network of National Reference Laboratories providing support to obtain high quality and reliable results.
Legislation regarding monitoring of residues of veterinary medicinal products, residue limits and veterinary medicinal products. See more