The plan is renewed annually by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) in association with the Department of Veterinary Drugs, Hormones and Contaminants at the Institute for Food Safety in Vienna in its capacity as the National Reference Laboratory and the Division for Data, Statistics and Risk Assessment and contains precise specifications regarding the number of animals or products of animal origin to be tested, the sampling procedure and regarding the parameters to be tested and the analytical methodology to be employed.
Regional allocation of sampling quotas and the sampling itself are the responsibility of the individual federal states. These are performed within the framework of the official veterinary and foodstuff control programme taking into account local and regional circumstances. In cases of suspected veterinary drug or hormone usage that is non-approved or in breach of regulations, additional checks are carried out and additional samples are taken.
Within AGES, testing for veterinary drugs and hormones is apportioned as follows: the Department of Veterinary Drugs, Hormones and Contaminants at the Institute for Food Safety in Vienna is entrusted with all hormone and veterinary drug groups in all matrices (except carbamates and pyrethroids), the Institutes for Veterinary Examinations in Mödling, Graz, Linz and Innsbruck are entrusted with biological inhibitor testing to detect antibiotics in animal tissues; the Department of Pesticide and Foodstuff Analysis at the Institute for Food Safety in Innsbruck is entrusted with carbamates and pyrethroids.
Furthermore, biological inhibitor tests for detection of antibiotics and ELISA screening for chloramphenicol in animal tissues are carried out at the State Office for Veterinary Examinations in Klagenfurt.
An essential condition - stipulated by the EU and enshrined in Austria’s Food Safety and Consumer Protection Law (LMSVG) - for laboratories actively involved in the residue control plan is that they be accredited in accordance with EN ISO/IEC 17025.
Both the annual plan and the data gathered and evaluated by the BMG at the end of the observation period are submitted to the Commission of the EU.
Blood, urine and feed samples are presented for testing as part of livestock checks. Animal tissue (muscle, liver, kidney, kidney fat), blood and urine are tested in checks occasioned by slaughter. Samples of primary products of animal origin such as milk, eggs and honey are also tested.
Range of examinations and tests
In accordance with the general provisions of the EU, the spectrum of veterinary drugs and hormones includes the following groups:
- prohibited substances with anabolic action and non-approved substances such as stilbenes, thyrostatics, steroids, resorcylic acid lactones, beta agonists, prohibited antibiotics and chemotherapeutic agents (Substance group A as per Directive 96/23/EC)
- substances with antibacterial action, for example penicillins, sulphonamides, quinolones, tetracyclines, macrolides, aminoglycosides, etc. (Substance group B1 as per Directive 96/23/EC)
- other veterinary drugs such as antiparasitics, coccidiostats including nitroimidazole, sedatives, anti-inflammatory agents, insecticides and carbamates (Substance group B2 as per Directive 96/23/EC).
The deciding factor in selecting the individual substances to be tested is primarily their relevance. The NRKP is not a rigid programme - findings from previous observation periods and recommendations by the EU Commission and the EU reference laboratories are routinely taken into account.
For quick and inexpensive testing for possible positive findings, screening tests are carried out, such as the inhibitor test for antibacterial substances as well as immunochemical and microbiological receptor assays such as ELISA, RIA and Charm tests.
Chromatographic procedures, such as HPLC with special detectors (DAD and FLD), LC/MS, LC/MS-MS and GC/MS, are used for the confirmation of non-negative screening results as well as for all classes of substance for which no suitable screening is possible. HPLC with special detectors (DAD and FLD), as well as HPLC and GC coupled with mass spectrometry detectors (LC/MS, LC/MS-MS, GC/MS). For the confirmation of hormone residues and prohibited veterinary drugs (Substance group A as per Directive 96/23/EC), the only procedures approved are those that use mass spectrometry detection.
Scope of annual testing
The number of samples to be tested is based on annual slaughter numbers as well as production figures for primary products milk, eggs and honey in accordance with EU guidelines.
Each sample is tested for substances from a certain substance group, while voluntary testing for other substances from other substance groups is also possible. For milk, eggs and honey, an EU Commission Decision stipulates that one sample be tested for several substance groups.
The scope of testing for residues of veterinary drugs and hormones within the framework of the NRKP amounts to approximately 19,000 to 20,000 tests per year.
Council Directive 96/23/EC of 29 April 1996 on measures to monitor certain substances and residues thereof in live animals and animal products (OJ EC No. L 125 of 23/5/1996, P. 10).
Council Directive 96/22/EC of 29 April 1996 concerning the prohibition in stockfarming of certain substances having a hormonal or thyrostatic action and of β-agonists (OJ EC No. L125 of 23/5/1996, P. 3).
Commission Decision 97/747/EC of 27 October 1997 fixing the levels and frequencies of sampling provided for by Council Directive 96/23/EC for the monitoring of certain substances and residues thereof in certain animal products (OJ EC No. L 3903 of 6/11/1997, P. 12).
Commission Regulation (EU) No 37/2010 of 22 December 2009 on pharmacologically active substances and their classification regarding maximum residue limits in foodstuffs of animal origin (OJ 2010 No. L 15 P. 1, ber. OJ 2010 No L 293 P. 72).
Commission Decision 657/2002/EC of 12 August 2002 implementing Council Directive 96/23/EC concerning the performance of analytical methods and the interpretation of results (OJ EC No. L 221 of 17.8.2002, P. 8).
Federal Minister for Health and Women - Regulation on control measures regarding certain substances and residues thereof in live animals and foodstuffs of animal origin (Residue Control Directive 2006) (Federal Law Gazette II, No. 110 of 13 March 2006).