Banned growth promoter substance found on Irish farm

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/iqoncept
© istock/iqoncept
Cows on a farm in Co Monaghan tested positive for the growth promoter drug, clenbuterol, last year, according to the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) report on its residue control program for 2016.

The use of beta agonists, such as clenbuterol, is prohibited in the EU for growth promotion in food producing animals.

Further tests at the farm found 27 other cattle with traces of the drug. All the affected animals were destroyed.   

The farmer in question faces prosecution, the Irish agriculture officials confirmed to The Times​.

DAFM’s report noted: “For the first time since 2011, a case of Clenbuterol was detected. This was as a result of a targeted sample taken from a bovine animal on farm, which tested positive for the illegal substance. The farm concerned was restricted while an investigation, including additional testing, was carried out. 

“While the evidence suggests that this was an isolated case and confined to one holding, the Department heightened its surveillance, which included additional testing at farm level. No further evidence of such illegal treatment has since been detected. Nevertheless, the Department will continue to be vigilant.”    

Under DAFM’s program, livestock are tested to prevent banned substances from entering the food chain for human consumption. Inspectors also check for residues of authorized medicines and feed additives, as well as environmental contaminants.

Overall test results

DAFM’s report​ found that, of the 19,250 samples tested in 2016 from eight food producing species as well as milk, eggs and honey, 99.8% tested negative for any residues. The Department said this was a continuation of the trend over a number of years of a general absence of residues in Irish food products. 

“This high level of compliance has been consistent over the last number of years going back to 2013 and the Department of Agriculture welcomes this as an indicator of the responsible approach adopted by the vast majority of farmers.”

Just 40 samples were non-compliant and, of these, the majority related to residues of authorized medicines, it said.

“Risk evaluations by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland were carried out in response to each result and it was found that there was no unacceptable food safety risk to consumers and none required a recall of products from the market.”


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