An important monitoring tool is the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP).
The NRKP is part of a program harmonized throughout the European Union, under which live animals and animal products are tested for residues of pharmacologically active substances. The aim of the NRKP is to detect illegal uses of prohibited or unauthorized substances (e.g. endocrine disruptors, pesticides) and to monitor the use of authorized substances (e.g. veterinary medicines, insecticides) in compliance with the law.
The plan is drawn up anew each year and contains precise specifications on the number of animals or animal products to be examined, on sampling as well as on the parameters to be examined and the analytical methodology to be used. The regional allocation of the sample quotas as well as the sampling are within the competence of the federal states. They are carried out within the framework of the official veterinary and food control, taking into account local and regional conditions. In case of suspicion of unauthorized or improper use of pharmacologically active substances, additional controls are carried out and samples are taken.
Blood, urine, hair and feed are examined as part of the control of animal stocks, animal tissue (muscle, liver, kidney, kidney fat), blood and urine as part of the control on the occasion of slaughtering, as well as samples from primary animal production such as milk, eggs and honey.
According to the examination program, residues of the following substance groups are examined within the scope of the NRKP:
- prohibited substances with anabolic effect such as stilbenes, thyreostatics, steroids, resorcylic acid lactones, beta-agonists
- prohibited veterinary drugs such as chloramphenicol, nitrofurans, nitroimidazoles
- unauthorized pharmacologically active substances from the active substance groups antimicrobial substances, coccidiostats, antiparasitics, sedatives, anti-inflammatory substances, dyes, plant protection products
- approved substances such as antimicrobials, antiparasitics, insecticides, fungicides, sedatives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, corticosteroids, coccidiostats.
The selection of substances to be investigated is essentially dictated by the legislation of the European Union, but risk-based specifics at the level of the individual member states can and should nevertheless be incorporated into the design of the NRCP.
Since 2023, a new EU regulation requires 3 separate residue control plans for pharmacologically active substances:
- risk-based plan
- monitoring plan ("surveillance")
- Import sampling plan
Both the NRKP and the results of the studies are to be submitted to the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), respectively.
Results of the NRKP
In 2021, out of a total of 9,528 plan samples tested, 42 were found to contain residues and contaminants that resulted in limits being exceeded or where unauthorized or prohibited substances were detected. This corresponds to a share of 0.4 %.