July 17, 2018

USDA Expanding Testing for Illegal Drug Residues in Meat

On July 2, 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced some new steps to protect the food supply. Later this summer, FSIS will launch a new approach for testing for harmful levels of chemical residues in meat, poultry, and egg products. This is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said, “the new testing methods being announced today will help protect consumers from illegal drug residues in meat products. By allowing us to test for more chemical compounds from each sample, these changes will enable USDA to identify and evaluate illegal drug residues more effectively and efficiently.

The National Residue Program (NRP) tests for chemical compounds, including approved and unapproved veterinary drugs, pesticides, hormones and environmental contaminants such as heavy metals. With this new program, one sample will to able to test for 66 pesticide chemicals, nine types of antibiotics, various metals, and eventually more than 50 other chemicals. Before this change, one test looked for only a few compounds in each sample.

The agency is also increasing the annual number of samples per slaughter class from 300 to 800. Any facilities with samples testing above legal residue limits will be reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That facility may be subjected to increased inspection and testing. As a point of reference, in 2011, according to the National Residue Program 2011 Scheduled Sampling Plans, there were 1,486 samples taken to test for Chloramphenicol in chickens and turkeys: 300 from mature chickens, 300 from young chickens, 300 from mature turkeys, and 300 from young turkeys. A few imported animals were also tested for residues of that drug. Now the samples will increase to 800 per slaughter class.

If you’re interested in commenting on this new testing procedure, you can submit your comments on the Federal Register. This regimen notice will be published on July 6, 2012. The new testing regimen will take place 30 days after the notice is published.

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