Iceland’s residue and contaminant system is good, but the time between sampling and test results could be improved, according to an audit by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has assessed Iceland’s official controls on residues of veterinary drugs, pesticides and contaminants in live animals and animal products.
A remote audit between late May and mid-June this year found Iceland’s planning and implementation of tailings monitoring to be well established and effective. It included an examination of a slaughterhouse and a laboratory.
Iceland had taken action after previous non-compliant sample results by carrying out additional on-site inspections and sampling of additional animals.
Most of the analyzes are carried out by laboratories in Sweden or Denmark. Matis in Iceland examines heavy metals in food and feed.
Time between sampling and result
Once the samples have been collected at the district level, they are sent to one of the two Icelandic laboratories for storage before being sent to the relevant laboratory for analysis. Samples should be sent in the second or third week of the month following the sampling period, the auditors said in their report.
The audit team found that samples were regularly kept in the two Icelandic laboratories for four to five weeks before shipping. A sample of non-compliant results included examples where it took between 60 and 70 days between the initial sampling and the release of the results to the authority.
The time between taking a sample and receiving the results is sometimes lengthened. This may be due to delays in the shipment of samples to designated laboratories or in the analysis of samples by the laboratories. This could delay authorities’ follow-up actions if a non-compliant result is detected, according to the report.
Follow-up actions are generally satisfactory, although in some cases there have been significant delays in the authority’s verification of corrective actions taken by the food sector and that the products have been placed on the market before the results. no tests were available to confirm that they were safe for human consumption.
In a non-compliant case involving anthelmintics – antiparasitic drugs – there was a seven week delay between sampling and receiving a positive laboratory result. There was no visit to the farm but a telephone interview was carried out. Information regarding the animal from which the positive sample was taken was misleading.
Another incident involved the detection of a coccidiostat – another antiparasitic drug – in the feed of finishing poultry above the MRL. Nine months elapsed between the non-compliance and the verification of the corrective actions. The slaughtered poultry and offal were sold without any results being available.
MAST said it would try to ensure a shorter turnaround time by shipping samples as soon as possible to designated labs and possibly shortening the sampling period each month. Annual contracts with each laboratory will be reviewed with an emphasis on a shorter turnaround time for official samples from Iceland.
Strategy designed to detect illegal processing
The auditors found that some aspects of surveillance aimed at detecting the illegal use of prohibited substances or abuse of approved substances and monitoring compliance with maximum residue limits (MRLs) could be strengthened by revising the sampling strategy. residue.
Excluding injured animals from targeted sampling weakens surveillance. Their slaughter is not early and there is an increased likelihood that they will undergo treatment with legal substances, when the withdrawal period is not met, or banned upon arrival at a slaughterhouse. Injured animals present with an injury which does not prevent their transport to a slaughterhouse for welfare reasons.
Auditors said on-farm sampling should be spread throughout the year and bovine milk samples should be analyzed consistently.
MAST said it will ensure on-farm sampling is spread more over the sampling year and that it will explore the possibility of sampling milk over more than three time periods.
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