The annual National Residue Control Program (NRCP) for live animals and animal-derived food has been implemented, as required under both national and EU legislation (Article 150 of Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Directive 96/23/EC, Annexes). The goal is to make sure that prohibited substances are not used in livestock production and that foodstuffs do not contain residues of veterinary medicinal products at levels that exceed the maximum residue limits (MRL) determined in the applicable legislation or other legal limits. The incidence rates and levels of contaminants (including heavy metals, pesticides and mycotoxins) from the environment in foodstuffs are also monitored under this program.
The Finnish Food Authority is responsible for the planning, implementation and co-ordination of the NRCP and it sends the sampling programme and applicable instructions for sampling (incl. targeting principles) to the authorities. The plan is approved by the EU-Commission. Also, all the results will be sent yearly to the EU-Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The program covers
The program covers red meat (eq. bovine, swine, sheep/goats, horses) and poultry (eq. broilers and turkey), farmed game (eq. reindeer), milk, eggs, aquaculture and honey.
Number of samples and substances to be tested
The number of samples for each group is calculated to fulfil the minimum requirements of the Annex IV of Council Directive 96/23/EC, and the Annex of Council Directive 97/747/EC. The number of samples is a fixed proportion of the animals slaughtered or of the animal products produced during the year. The substance groups to be tested are set out for each species in Annexes I and II of Council Directive 96/23.
- Municipal Food Control Authorities are taking the food samples. Milk samples are collected on production holdings or milk establishments. Honey samples are collected on beekeepers’ farms or packing centres, egg samples are taken from egg packing centres and fish samples from fish establishments.
- Veterinary inspectors working in the slaughterhouses are taking samples from carcasses of slaughtered animals.
- Regional State Administrative Agencies (RSAA) or veterinarians authorised by the RSAA are taking samples from live animals on farms.
- In addition to food samples, meat and organs, samples for analysis were also taken from blood, faeces and urine as well as from feed and drinking water.
All samples are analyzed by the Finnish Food Authority/ Laboratory and Research Division/ Chemistry Unit or Microbiology Unit.
Samples are reported as non-compliant if they contain residues of approved veterinary medicinal products or other substances at levels that exceed the maximum residue limits or action limits, or if it can be demonstrated that animals have been medicated in violation of regulations or otherwise given prohibited substances. An official investigation is always conducted when non-compliances are observed or suspected.
The use of prohibited growth promoters has never been detected in Finland. Residues of approved veterinary medicinal products slightly exceeding the limit values have been found in individual cases. The results indicate that food products produced in Finland are safe for consumption/consumers and that producers in most cases carefully comply with the regulations on medical treatment of animals, including withdrawal periods related to treatment.
Link to the relevant legislation here.
Summary of the results
The summary of the results of the National Residue Control Program is published as a part of the Finnish Food Authority Publications.
Food Safety in Finland 2020, 8.1. Prohibited substances, medicine residues and contaminants in animal-derived food products (page 72).
Food Safety in Finland 2019, 8.1. Prohibited substances, medicine residues and contaminants in animal-derived food products (page 70).
Food Safety in Finland 2018, 8.1. Prohibited substances, medicine residues and contaminants in animal-derived food products (page 78).
Food Safety in Finland 2017, 8.1. Prohibited substances, medicine residues and contaminants in animal-derived food products (page 68).
Food Safety in Finland 2016, 8.1. Prohibited substances, medicine residues and contaminants in animal-derived food products (page 55).