In the UK, farmers and veterinarians have an excellent track record of ensuring our food is free from harmful residues of veterinary medicine and measures are in place to ensure things stay that way.
A surveillance schemes is overseen by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), a Defra agency.
This is known as the Statutory Surveillance Scheme. This is funded by the livestock industry and tests food from UK animals. All EU countries have a legal requirement to test their produce for residues of veterinary medicines and a smaller number of pesticides and heavy metals and a similar scheme is expected to be in place in the UK after the end of the EU exit transition period.
This statutory surveillance programme includes samples from red meat, poultry, eggs, milk, farmed fish, wild and farmed game, and honey.
The Veterinary Medicines Directoate Reports during 2020 demonstrate once again that the use of authorised veterinary medicinal products in accordance with directions in the UK does not result in residues of human health concern and that a very high level of compliance with the safe use of such medicines continues to be achieved.
Follow-up action is taken by the Animal & Plant Health Agency, The Fisheries Research Services (Scotland) and the Centre for Environment Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), on every sample which on confirmatory analysis shows the presence of unauthorised substances or concentrations of authorised substances above the MRL (Maximum Residue Limits). A thorough on-farm investigation is undertaken by a Veterinary Officer (VO) or a Fish Health Officer (FHO) of the relevant agency who may be accompanied by an Investigation Officer (IO) of DEFRA’s legal department. This investigation will involve an inspection of farm records and stock and the collection of further samples from suspect animals. If clear evidence of abuse is found, the farmer will be prosecuted.