The National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) is an important monitoring instrument.
The NRCP is part of a harmonised programme throughout the European Union, under which live animals and animal products are tested for residues of pharmacologically active substances. The aim of the NRCP is to detect illegal use of banned or unauthorised substances (e.g. endocrine disruptors, plant protection products) and to monitor the use of authorised active substances (e.g. veterinary medicines, insecticides) in accordance with the law.
The plan is drawn up annually and contains precise specifications regarding the number of animals or animal products to be analysed, sampling, the parameters to be tested and the analytical methods to be used. The regional allocation of the sample quotas and the sampling are the responsibility of the federal states. They are carried out as part of official veterinary and food controls, taking local and regional circumstances into account. Additional checks are carried out and samples are taken if the use of pharmacologically active substances is suspected to be unauthorised or contrary to regulations.
Blood, urine, hair and feed are analysed as part of the inspection of livestock, animal tissue (muscle, liver, kidney, kidney fat), blood and urine as part of the inspection at slaughter, as well as samples from primary animal production such as milk, eggs and honey.
According to the testing programme, residues of the following substance groups are tested as part of the NRKP:
- banned substances with anabolic effects such as stilbenes, thyrostatic agents, steroids, resorcylic acid lactones, beta-agonists
- banned veterinary medicinal products such as chloramphenicol, nitrofurans, nitroimidazoles
- unauthorised pharmacologically active substances from the active substance groups antimicrobial substances, coccidiostats, antiparasitics, sedatives, anti-inflammatory substances, dyes, plant protection products
- authorised substances such as antimicrobials, antiparasitics, insecticides, fungicides, sedatives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, corticosteroids, coccidiostats
The selection of substances to be analysed is essentially determined by European Union legislation; nevertheless, risk-based specifics at the level of the individual member states can and should be incorporated into the design of the NRCP.
Since 2023, 3 separate plans for the residue control of pharmacologically active substances must be drawn up on the basis of a new EU regulation:
- risk-based plan
- Surveillance plan ("Surveillance")
- Import sampling plan
Both the NRCP and the results of the analyses must be submitted to the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Results of the NRCP
In 2022, residues and contaminants were found in 44 out of a total of 9,483 plan samples analysed, which led to limit values being exceeded or in which unauthorised or prohibited substances could be detected. This corresponds to a share of 0.5 %.