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Monitoring of Residues

Council Directive 96/23/EC (no longer in force), as amended (no longer in force) on measures to monitor certain substances and residues thereof in live animals and animal products.

Directive 96/23 has been repealed by Regulation (EU) 2017/625 although its key provisions apply until 14/12/22 (Article 150 of 2017/625).

Commission Decision 97/747/EC (no longer in force) (OJ L 303, p12, 06/11/1997) of 27 October 1997 fixing the levels and frequencies of sampling provided for by Council Directive 96/23/EC for the monitoring of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.

Commission Decision 2002/657/EC, as amended implementing Council Directive 96/23/EC concerning the performance of analytical methods and the interpretation of results.

A principal objective of Council Directive 96/23/EC is to detect illegal use of substances in animal production as well as detecting the misuse of authorised veterinary medicinal products. The Directive lays down measures requiring EU Member States to monitor the substances and groups of residues listed in Annex I to the Directive. The substance groups are classified in two main categories - Group A and Group B.

Group A

This group lists substances having anabolic effect and unauthorised substances (i.e., most of the substances which are prohibited from use in food producing animals in the EU) and the Group is subdivided into 6 subgroups (A1-A6)

Group B

This group contains a list of veterinary drugs and contaminants, i.e., residues of many pharmacologically active substances which may be authorised for use in food producing animals in the EU. It also comprises organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides and also chemical elements such as lead, cadmium and mercury.

Annex II to Council Directive 96/23/EC (no longer in force) lists for each commodity (e.g., bovine animals, aquaculture animals, honey, milk, eggs, etc) which Group A and Group B subgroups must be monitored for in the respective commodities.

Council Directive 96/23/EC (no longer in force) requires Member States to draft a national residue monitoring plan for the groups of substances detailed in Annex I. These plans must comply with the sampling rules in Annex IV of the Directive (no longer in force). This Directive also establishes the frequencies and level of sampling and the groups of substances to be controlled for each food commodity. 

Commission Decision 97/747/EC provides further rules for certain animal products: milk, eggs, honey, rabbits and game meat. Member States should forward to the Commission the results of their residue monitoring no later than the 31 March each year. Where checks demonstrate that unauthorised substances or products are present or when maximum limits have been exceeded, the provisions of Articles 19 to 22 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 (no longer in force) will apply. The permitted residue levels for veterinary medicinal products in foodstuffs of animal origin are set out in Commission Regulation (EU) 37/2010.

Each year, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) administers a National Residues Monitoring Plan. The plan is designed to protect consumers from illegal residues and therefore the samples are generally taken in accordance with criteria designed to target animals or products which are more likely to contain illegal residues.

In order for third countries (i.e., countries not in the European Union) to be included on the list from which EU Member States are authorised to import animals and animal products, they are required to submit a plan to the European Commission setting out the guarantees which it (the third country) offers regarding the residue status of exported product with respect to all of the specified substance groups listed in Annex I to Council Directive 96/23/EC (no longer in force).