Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods

​​​​​Testing for residues

Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods
(Host Government - United States)

The Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods (CCRVDF) determines priorities for the consideration of residues of veterinary drugs in foods and recommends Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for veterinary drugs.

A Codex Maximum Limit for Residues of Veterinary Drugs (MRL) is the maximum concentration or residue that results from the use of a veterinary drug (expressed in mg/kg or g/kg on a fresh weight basis) recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to be legally permitted or recognised as acceptable in or on a food.

An MRL is based on the type and amount of residue considered to be without any toxicological hazard from human health as expressed by the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI)*, or on the basis of a temporary ADI that utilises an additional safety factor. An MRL also considers public health risks as well as food technology issues.

*Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI): an estimate by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the amount of a veterinary drug, expressed on a body weight basis, that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk (standard man – 60kg).

When establishing a MRL, residues that occur in food of plant origin and/or the environment are also considered. Furthermore, a MRL may be reduced to be consistent with good practices in the use of veterinary drugs to the extent that practical and analytical methods are available.

Existing Codex Standards

Standards relating to residues of veterinary drugs in foods* that have been endorsed and adopted into the international food code include standards on:

  • Control of the Use of Veterinary Drugs
  • Glossary of Terms and Definitions (Veterinary Drugs Residues in Foods)
  • Guidelines for the Establishment of a Regulatory Program for Control of Veterinary Drug Residues in Foods
  • Maximum Residue Limits for Veterinary Drugs in Food

* This is an indicative list only. For a full list of standards approved by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, please consult its Official List of Standards

Last Meeting

The 23rd Session of the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods was held in Houston, Texas, USA from 17 – 21 October 2016.

Matters for Adoption by the Commission

The Committee agreed to forward to the Commission:

  • Proposed draft maximum residue limits (MRL) for lasalocid sodium (chicken, turkey, quail and pheasant kidney, liver, muscle, skin+fat) (78th JECFA); ivermectin (cattle fat, kidney, liver, muscle) (81st JECFA); teflubenzuron (salmon fillet, muscle) (81st JECFA);
  • Proposed Draft Risk Management recommendation for gentian violet; and

Other matters for approval

The Committee:

  • Agreed to discontinue the proposed draft MRL for ivermectin (cattle muscle)
  • Agreed to forward the Priority List of Veterinary Drugs for evaluation by JECFA to the Commission for approval.

Matters of Interest

  • The Committee agreed to hold the draft MRLs for zilpaterol hydrochloride (cattle fat, kidney, liver, muscle) at Step 4.

Matters for FAO/WHO

The Committee forward a request to JECFA to address the issue of unavoidable and unintended residues of approved veterinary drugs in foods resulting from carry-over of veterinary drugs residues in feed.

Next Meeting

The 24th Session of the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Foods will be held in the USA in approximately 18 months’ time with dates to be confirmed between the Codex Secretariat and Host Country.

Related Links

Last reviewed: 30 September 2020
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