National Residue Survey 2017–18 Cattle

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NRS 2017-18 Industry brochure: Cattle PDF41.76 MB
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Key points

  • In 2017–18, the overall compliance rate against Australian standards was 99.89 per cent.
  • Australian primary producers continue to demonstrate a high degree of good agricultural practice.
  • The National Residue Survey is certified to ISO 9001 Quality Management System.

The National Residue Survey (NRS) is an operational unit within the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and since 1992 has been funded by industries through levies or contracted by direct funding.

The NRS is an essential part of Australia’s pesticide and veterinary medicine residue management framework providing verification of good agricultural practice in support of chemical control-of-use legislation and guidelines.

NRS residue monitoring programs monitor the levels of, and associated risks from, pesticides and veterinary medicine residues in Australian food products. The programs help to facilitate and encourage ongoing access to domestic and export markets. NRS supports Australia’s primary producers and food processors who provide quality animal, grain and horticulture products which meet both Australian and relevant international standards.

Cattle program overview

The cattle program has been operating since the early 1960s and is funded through the NRS component of the cattle transaction levy. The program involves the testing of Australian cattle tissue samples for a range of pesticides, veterinary medicines and environmental contaminants.

The program ensures beef exports satisfy Australian export certification and importing country requirements. In addition, the program supports industry quality assurance initiatives and enables domestic meat processing facilities to satisfy state and territory government regulatory authority licensing requirements.

Sample Collection

The number of samples collected is based on Australian production levels and/or overseas export market requirements.

Formal requests are sent to authorised government officers at export abattoirs and quality control officers at domestic abattoirs to obtain the collection of samples from randomly selected animals along the slaughter chain.

Analytical screens

Analytical screens covering pesticides, veterinary medicines and environmental contaminants are developed in consultation with the industry and take into account Australian registered chemicals, chemical residue profiles and overseas market requirements.

Cattle samples are screened for a range of chemicals, as shown in Table 1.

TABLE 1 Analytical screens for the cattle program
Chemical groupAnalytical screen
Veterinary drugs/pesticidesAnthelmintics (including macrocyclic lactones, salicylanilides and benzimidazoles)
Antimicrobials (including aminoglycosides, anticoccidials, beta lactams, quinolones, macrolides, nitrofurans, phenicols, sulfonamides and tetracyclines)
Hormones (including stilbenes, corticosteroids, resorcylic acid lactones and androgenic steroids)
Other medicines (including beta-agonists and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
Pesticides (insecticides, fungicides and herbicides)
Environmental contaminantsOrganochlorines (aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, DDT, endrin, HCB, HCH, heptachlor, lindane, mirex, PCBs and pentachlorobenzene)
Metals (antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury)

Results

In 2017–18, a total of 4,576 samples was collected for analysis. The results were compared against Australian standards and where relevant, international standards.

A summary of compliance rates against Australian standards over the past six years is provided in Table 2. The results highlight an excellent compliance status against Australian standards and demonstrate the strong commitment of the cattle industry to good agricultural practice. The consistently high compliance rates help maintain the reputation and integrity of Australian beef in domestic and international markets.

TABLE 2 Compliance rates over the past six years
YearsCompliance rates (%)
2012–13100
2013–1499.96
2014–1599.96
2015–16100
2016–1799.85
2017–1899.89

Laboratory Selection and Performance

The NRS contracts laboratories to analyse animal and plant product samples for pesticide/veterinary medicine residues and environmental contaminants.
Laboratories are selected through the Australian Government tendering process on the basis of their proficiency and value for money. Laboratories must be accredited to international standard ISO/ IEC 17025 at commencement of testing.

Contracted laboratories are proficiency tested by the NRS to ensure the validity of their analytical results and technical competence. The NRS has been accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities as a proficiency test provider since July 2005.

International export markets

The NRS maintains a database of maximum residue limits (MRLs) established for Australia and major export markets for industries supported by the NRS. All analysis results are checked for compliance against Australian standards and relevant international MRLs.

Australian MRL standard can be accessed at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2018C00574 and MRL requirements for international export markets can be found at http://agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/food/nrs/databases.​

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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