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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Mapping ways of detecting and handling antimicrobial residues in pigs and pig meat in- and outside Europe

Alban, L.; Antunovic, B.; Belous, M.; Bonardi, S.; Garcia-Gimeno, R. M.; Jenson, I.; Kautto, A. H.; Majewski, M.; Oorburg, D.; Sakaridis, I.; Sirbu, A.; Vieira-Pinto, M.; Vagsholm, I.; Berzins, A.; Petersen, J. V.


Withdrawal periods after antimicrobial treatment have been defined as preventing in meat the presence of residues above the maximum residue limits (MRLs). However, errors can lead to residues above MRLs. The RIBMINS COST Action network investigated the question of how detection and handling are applied in different countries, and what the best practices may be, when balancing consumer safety with EU policy on minimising food waste. Two questionnaires were developed focusing on pigs, targeting the competent authority and the food business operator. The survey was undertaken in spring 2022 and resulted in 78 answers representing 27 countries. The results showed that most countries operate their system as a kind of monitoring, where the tested carcass is not detained. We suggest two best practice models where Model A (monitoring) could reflect small abattoirs placing meat on the national market, whereas Model B (surveillance) could reflect abattoirs also trading and exporting. In Model A, detection of a residue above the MRL is interpreted in the same way as a process hygiene criterion, requires on-farm inspection to correct mistakes only, and therefore no retention of tested carcases. In Model B, detection of a residue above the MRL is interpreted as a food safety criterion, requires onfarm inspection and the tested carcass is retained to avoid expensive recalls in case residues are found.


Veterinary public health; Monitoring; Antibiotics; Pork; Food waste; Residues; Risk management

Published in

Food Control
2023, Volume: 153, article number: 109899