BSG Targeted Residue Testing Programs

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​​​For the Testing of Carcases, Export Meat, and Meat Products

April 2013

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Overview

In agriculture, the term residue is generally used to describe small amounts of a chemical, or its breakdown products, that remain in or on a product. In the context of food concerns, a residue may also include metals or other contaminants such as mycotoxins. They may be present in food either through natural circumstances or as a consequence of industrial or agricultural activities.

Residue monitoring in Australia is an important part of an overall strategy to minimise unwanted chemical residues in food. Residue monitoring programs provide verification of the overall agricultural and veterinary chemical regulation system, identifying potential residue problems and indicating where corrective action is required.

Some countries require a government-managed residue-monitoring plan as a condition for market access. To satisfy these requirements and certify the residue and contaminant status of certain commodities for export, DAFF uses data from the National Residue Survey (NRS) residue monitoring programs. In addition trading partners will from time to time audit the operation and results of the NRS and other monitoring.

The Orders of the Export Control Act 1982 require compliance with Australian Standards and Importing Country Requirements.

NRS, in close collaboration with other parts of DAFF, develop and plan Annual Random Monitoring, Targeted Monitoring and Compliance Programs. NRS implement and manage the plans.

DAFF uses the results from NRS Random Monitoring Program to provide certification concerning the effectiveness of systems for the control of chemical residues. State meat inspection authorities also reference these results. The Random Monitoring Program is not discussed further in this document. This document deals with Targeted Testing Programs.

NRS targeted monitoring and compliance programs address perceived or known residue or contaminant problems. These programs enable government and industry to implement any necessary preventive quality control and quality assurance measures to minimise risk to consumers and markets. ¿VDAFF on-plant officers typically collect samples. The NRS contracts laboratories through a competitive tender process. Private and government laboratories wishing to tender are required to participate in laboratory performance evaluation undertaken by the NRS prior to awarding contracts. During the contract period laboratories undergo regular performance monitoring and evaluation by the NRS. The NRS is an accredited proficiency-testing provider.

1.1 Targeted Monitoring, Compliance and Prevention

Targeted monitoring, compliance testing, and residue prevention projects are designed to meet particular management objectives relating to chemical residue that pose a high or a potential risk to access by Australian products to domestic and export markets. DAFF on-plant officers collect samples* and these sent for testing in accordance with industry requirements. Results are released to relevant authorities and to industry for action where necessary. Targeted programs include:

  • National Organochlorine Residue Management program (NORM)*
  • Targeted Antibacterial Residue Testing program (TART)
  • National Antibacterial Residue Minimisation program (NARM)*
  • Sheep Targeted Antibacterial Residue Testing program (START)
  • Endosulfan residues in beef

Establishments need to address risks not addressed or species not covered by the industry programs listed above in their approved arrangements.

* some samples also collected by establishment personnel 

2. Testing arrangements for the National Organochlorine Residue Management (NORM) Program

The NORM program was established to manage the risks of persistent organochlorine (OC) contaminants being detected in beef products. The program focuses on the active management of OC broad-acre and point-source contamination at the farm level to minimise trade risks to the beef industry and to prevent OC contaminants in food products exceeding domestic food standards.

2.1 Scope

This procedure applies to establishments testing product under the NORM Program.

2.2 Background

Organochlorine (OC) residues in meat (DDT, dieldrin etc) became a significant issue for Australian market access to the USA in 1987 and have required ongoing management. In early 1994, the Residue Management Group (a predecessor to SAFEMEAT) reviewed the OC residue situation after the successful completion of a property clearance program that existed from 1987-1994. The outcome was the development and implementation of the NORM Program, a program aimed at identifying risk properties and implementing active management at the farm level through on-farm quality assurance.

2.3 Discussion

In 1995, all cattle properties were allocated an OC chemical residue status based on their previous testing history. All property statuses are listed on the NLIS database, which is maintained and managed by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). Properties previously classed as 'clear' (C) are now referred to as 'no ERP status' (ERP = extended residue program). Saleyard operators and abattoir management access the NLIS database before sale or slaughter to determine the OC status and the relevant contaminant testing rates.

Industry funding for test costs is available only for testing undertaken on sentinel animals within the first year following discovery of the OC risk and the assigning of a 'T' status to the property. Properties eligible for this funding have ERP statuses with an 'F' suffix. Properties that have been assigned a 'T' status for longer than 1 year have a 'V' suffix, indicating that payment for testing is to be under commercial arrangements between the abattoir and the vendor.

The testing rates and payment arrangements are listed below:

 

ERP Status

Property
Risk Status

Testing rate

Product Fate^

Payment Testing

OC Rick Category

T4

Very High

100% of lots,
<10 in lot, 1 targeted sentinel;
10 – 20, 2 targeted sentinels;
>20, 3 targeted sentinels

Test sentinel(s) & hold all
If a test result >50% MRL test all companions

Commercial arrangements apply¥

T3F

High

100% of lots,
1 targeted sentinel

Test sentinel & hold all
If a test result >50% MRL
test all companions

Industry funding§

T3V

High

100% of lots,
1 targeted sentinel

Test sentinel & hold all
If a test result >50% MRL
test all companions

Commercial arrangements apply¥

T1F
and
T2F

Reduced

100% of lots,
1 targeted sentinel

Test and hold sentinel
If a test result >50% MRL
test all companions

Industry funding§

T1V
and
T2V

Reduced

100% of lots,
1 targeted sentinel

Test & hold sentinel
If a test result >50% MRL
test all companions

Commercial arrangements apply¥

Reason
for testing

S

Sentinel

See above

R

Retest

Commercial arrangements apply¥

A

Companion
Test

Commercial Arrangements apply¥

M

Management
test

Abattoir Management responsibility¥

^ While test and hold is recommended for export abattoirs, domestic abattoirs may decide to operate on a test and release basis for OC Risk categories other than T4 which must be test and hold. Where a test and hold arrangement applies, it is recommended that results be known prior to slaughter of the balance of the lot.
¥ Any testing undertaken is a commercial matter between the abattoir and the vendor.

§ Industry funding is available for tests of sentinel animals for T1F, T2F, and T3F risk categories for 12 months from the time of initial risk discovery. Following this period these statuses will change to T1V, T2V and T3V and payment for testing will be a commercial matter between the abattoir and the vendor.

2.4 Sample collection and dispatch

For sample collection and dispatch instructions for this program refer to the NRS Sample Collection and Dispatch Manual available from the Instructional Material Library (IML) > IML > Exports > Meat > Reference Material.

ONLY dispatch samples to an NRS approved laboratory

OC CODES TO BE ENTERED ON THE NRS LABORATORY SUBMISSION FORM

There are 2 components to the code and it is essential to mark BOTH on the laboratory submission form:

  1. the OC Risk Category (ERP Status) AND
  2. the reason why the animal is to be tested, e.g. T2/S or T2/A or T1/M

2.4 Responsibilities and Reporting Requirements

2.4.1 Establishment Management

  1. To implement the NORM program as above.
  2. Bring to the attention of DAFF of any cattle from targeted properties or sourced from properties quarantined for residues prior to presentation for slaughter.
  3. Exclude from export the carcase and offal of cattle tested and found to contain residues above the relevant importing country standard.
  4. In consultation with the OPV condemn the carcase/s and offal of cattle tested and found to contain residues above the standards set in the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code.

2.4.2 DAFF on-plant officers:

  1. To verify the effectiveness of the establishments NORM program.
  2. Verify the establishment ensures that the source property for the animals is accredited under LPA on-farm food safety program, or equivalent, that addresses organochlorine risks. If animals are not sourced from properties that can demonstrate organochlorine risks are managed sentinel animals should be tested to assess the risk.
  3. Retain the carcase and offal of tested animals with an ERP T status (T1V, T2V, T1F, T2F, T3V, T3F and T4V).
  4. Determine final disposition based on the laboratory test result and notify the establishment of final disposition of the carcase, carcase products and offal.
  5. Notify the DAFF Area Technical Manager (ATM ) of any results where the targeted animal carcase is eligible to be released to the domestic market.

2.4.3 DAFF Auditors

  1. Verify that export registered establishments an approved NORM testing program included under their approved arrangement.
  2. Notify the relevant State/Territory authorities responsible for domestic meat inspection of laboratory results and final carcase disposition of targeted animal carcases intended for release to the domestic market. (See Final Carcase Disposition for details.)

2.4.4 Laboratories

  1. Laboratories are required to report results according to contractual arrangements to DAFF on-plant officer(s) and NRS 2.4.5 NRS
  2. NRS is to report all laboratory results to the relevant State/Territory Residue Coordinator and to DAFF Export Meat Program Central Office.

3. Targeted Antibacterial Residue Testing (TART) Program - antibacterial confirmatory testing for suspect adult cattle

The purpose of this program is to manage the risk of antibacterial residues that exceed the relevant standards in cattle, other than bobby calves, slaughtered at export abattoirs. For bobby calves see the NARM testing program.

3.1 Scope

This procedure applies to all establishments slaughtering cattle for export.

3.2 Background

The presence of antibacterial residues in meat products has the potential to restrict market access of Australia's produce. SAFEMEAT has reviewed both the NARM and TART programs:

  • The NARM program only applies to bobby calves.
  • The TART program provides an antibacterial confirmatory testing capability to DAFF On-Plant Veterinarian (OPV) when suspected that cattle (other than bobby calves) may recently been treated with antibacterial medications.

Of particular interest within the TART program are cull dairy cows, cattle from hospital penned feedlot cattle and cull bulls.

NOTE: The TART and START programs only apply to cattle and sheep respectively. For species other than bovine or ovine, if a residue is suspected, contact the Director of the Export Meat Program via the ATM to authorise testing.

3.3 Responsibilities

3.3.1 Establishment Management

  1. To implement an effective TART program under the establishment's approved arrangement.
  2. Bring to the attention of DAFF any cattle identified by the National Vendor Declaration (NVD) as receiving recent antibacterial treatment - including all cattle for which the vendor has answered "Yes" to the relevant question on the NVD in respect of such treatment (i.e. Are any of the cattle in this consignment still within a Withholding Period (WHP) or Export Slaughter Interval (ESI) following treatment with any veterinary drug or chemical?).
  3. Exclude from export the carcase and offal of cattle tested and found to contain residues above the relevant importing country standard.
  4. Condemn the carcase and offal of cattle tested and found to contain residues above the Australian Standard (Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code).

3.3.2 DAFF on-plant officers

  1. to verify effectiveness of the establishment's TART program.

identify targeted animals suspected of having received recent antibacterial treatment, collect, and dispatch tissue samples.

OPVs must use their professional judgement to select animals (at ante-mortem) or carcasses (at post-mortem) suspected to have received recent antibacterial drug treatment.

  1. ensure the carcase, carcase parts and offal of tested animals are retained under DAFF supervision until receipt of confirmatory analysis results.
  2. Ensure a copy of the laboratory results is given to the establishment.
  3. sample any cattle identified by the NVD as receiving recent antibacterial treatment.
  4. other species if residue suspected - to authorise testing contact Director of the Export Meat Program via ATM.

Targeted animals may include:

cattle
- identified by the NVD as recently treated with antibacterials
- suspected of being recently treated with antibacterials
- with blue dye in the udder
- known or suspected to have been in the hospital section of a feedlot

- cattle exhibiting signs of:
Endocarditis
Injection sites
Injury or inflammatory conditions
Mastitis
Metritis
Pericarditis
Peritonitis
Pleuritis
Pneumonia
Septicaemia, pyemia or generalised disease.

3.3.3 DAFF Export Meat Program Auditors

  1. Verify establishments have the TART program included in their approved arrangement and effectively implemented.
  2. Where necessary, for product deemed not fit for export but eligible for human consumption for the domestic market, liaise with relevant State authorities.  

3.4 Sampling

The following table details the samples that must be collected for the TART program.

Samples should be collected, packaged, stored and dispatched according to the NRS Sample Collection and Dispatch Manual

TART program

Sample

Test Type

Recording of Sample Details

Consignment notes 3

Cattle suspect of antibacterial drug treatment

Kidney 1

Test &hold 2

New On Demand Sample - AMK in TART

TART

  1. Muscle tissue is suitable for testing if kidney is not available, but do not sample injection site granuloma.
  2. Carcases (entire carcase or boned) and all carcase parts of targeted cattle must be retained under DAFF supervision until the test results become available.
  • No meat product from any other carcass may be placed in the same carton, irrespective if it is from another targeted animal awaiting test results
  1. Use relevant program consignment notes: refer to NRS Sample Collection and Dispatch Manual.

Tissue samples are to be sent to an NRS approved laboratory.

  • NRS will meet the cost of freighting tissue samples to the laboratory and the laboratory analysis costs for samples submitted by OPV¿¿s under the TART Program.

3.5 Reporting Requirements

3.5.1 Laboratories

Laboratories are required to report results according to contractual arrangements to DAFF on-plant officers and NRS

3.5.2 DAFF on-plant officers

  1. are to notify the establishment of the final disposition of the carcase and offal based on the laboratory test result, and
  2. for targeted animal carcase that are to be released to the domestic market;
  3. consult with the ATM to ensure the relevant State/Territory authorities responsible for domestic meat inspection are notified of laboratory results and final carcase disposition (See Final Carcase Disposition 3.6 for details).

3.5.3 NRS

i) NRS is responsible to report violative laboratory results to the relevant State/Territory Residue Coordinator and to the DAFF Export Meat Program.

3.6 Final Carcase Disposition

Each target animal is to be tested on a 'test and hold' basis and final disposition is made based on laboratory results e.g. if the laboratory result is:

  1. greater than the Australian MRL then the carcase is to be condemned and disposed of under DAFF supervision.
  2. greater than the MRL of the proposed importing country, but less than the Australian MRL, then the carcase may be released to the domestic market.
  3. less than the MRL of the proposed importing country and the Australian MRL, then the carcase may be released to the domestic market, for export or for further processing.

DAFF will notify the relevant state/territory domestic meat inspection authority of the laboratory test outcome and the final carcase disposition.

4. The National Antibacterial Residue Minimisation (NARM) Program - Bobby Calves

The purpose of this program is to manage the risk of antibacterial residues that exceed the Australian maximum residue limits (MRLs) in bobby calves slaughtered at export abattoirs. The testing component of the NARM program sets out the required testing rates for Microbial Inhibition Testing (MIT) of bobby calf urine and provides for confirmatory testing of ALL MIT screen positives to support state department extension and prosecution activities.

4.1 Scope

This procedure applies to export registered establishments slaughtering bobby calves.

4.2 Definition

Bobby calf: a young bovine animal weighing no more than 80 kg live weight or 40 kg dressed weight.

4.3 Background

The presence of antibacterial residues in meat products has the potential to restrict market access of Australia's produce. In response, DAFF introduced testing and monitoring programs for bobby calves. Testing of a percentage of slaughter throughputs is required to address the concerns of sensitive markets like the United States of America.

The abattoir NARM program applies only to bobby calves while the abattoir TART program will continue to provide a testing capability to DAFF where they suspect cattle, other than bobby calves, may have been recently treated with antibacterials. The NARM program monitors for 5 main classes of antibacterials:

  • Sulphonamides
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Macrolides
  • Tetracyclines
  • Beta-lactams (e.g. penicillins)

In recognition of changes made in international and Australian tolerances and general improvements in the bobby calf MIT violation rates at Australian abattoirs, DAFF and industry have agreed to the adoption of set testing rates for bobby calves. The aim of the program is to:

  1. minimise unnecessary testing of calves which are free from antibacterial residues,
  2. encourage producers to only supply animals which have not been treated, or which have complied with appropriate treatment withholding periods
  3. encourage establishment managers to support producer feedback and favour livestock purchase contracts that extend the responsibility for control of residues to the farm of origin.

Establishment management and DAFF on-plant officers should work co operatively with local state and territory animal health authorities and dairy producer groups to further reduce antibacterial residues in slaughter calves.

4.4 Sampling

4.4.1 Establishment Management

  1. A valid national vendor declaration (NVD) should be obtained from all persons in the supply chain from farm to abattoir who have had custody of the animals, including those who aggregate animals from different farms prior to supply to the abattoir.
    • Post sale summaries are acceptable provided they contain all relevant information and the original NVD remains available on the request of establishment management.
    • Animals presented for slaughter without the required documentation must be withheld from slaughter until the consignor supplies the documentation.
  2. Each animal is to be tested on a 'test and hold' basis.
  3. Export establishments must test urine from bobby calves at the following rates:

Testing level

Declaration status

Calves to be tested

A

Bobby calves accompanied by a valid signed NVD AND identified by a National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) device to enable tracing to property of origin.

5%

B

Bobby calves not identified with an NLIS device to enable tracing to property of origin - State authorities need to be notified, as this is a breach of legislation.

100%

  1. A system must be implemented to ensure that the percentage of calves screen tested is consistent with the above table. Where practical, establishment management are encouraged to target individual properties and/or regions with a history of problems. The rate of screening for targeted testing is at the discretion of the establishment however, the overall rate of testing must not be less than the general rates specified above.
  2. The urine screen test must be conducted with the Microtech MIT A test kit or equivalent.
    • For those establishments that slaughter bobby calves for export to Canada, testing must be with the Microtech MIT A and B test kits or equivalent.
  3. The carcase and offal of calves found to be MIT positive must be excluded from the export chain.
  4. All laboratories performing urine screening for antibacterial residues must:
    1. participate in and be found proficient by the ongoing NRS proficiency-testing program for MIT testing;
    2. screen urine samples submitted for antibacterial residue testing using the method/s for which the laboratory has demonstrated its proficiency.
  5. The following table details the samples that must be collected for each component of the NARM bobby calf program:
NARM program

Sample

Test Type

Recording of Sample Details

Bobby calf screen

Urine 1

Test & hold 3

NARM Monthly MIT results report template and MIT Positive Reporting Sheet

Bobby calf confirmatory (following urine positive)

Kidney2

Test & hold 3

New On Demand Sample – AMK in NARM

1. Screen urine with MIT A for all markets and MIT A and MIT B for Canada
2. Muscle tissue will be acceptable only where kidney tissue is unavailable
3. Screened carcases may be transferred to an off-site boning room provided it is under DAFF supervision and suitable tracing and recall procedures are in place.
4. Screened carcases may be boned under DAFF supervision with other DAFF retained meat products until the test results become available.

  1. No meat product from any other carcase may be placed in the same carton, irrespective if it is from another targeted animal awaiting test results.
  1. For NARM program samples: NRS sampling consumables (bags, security satchels, boxes etc) and NORM program consignment notes are to be used. Refer to the NRS Sample Collection and Dispatch Manual
  2. All tissue samples are to be sent to an NRS approved laboratory
  3. NRS will meet the laboratory analysis and freight costs for samples collected from calves identified with a NLIS device to enable tracing to property of origin.
    • The contracted laboratory will invoice NRS when the analysis is completed.
  4. Testing costs for calves not identified with a NLIS device are to be met by the establishment.
    • Confirmatory testing, from calves not identified with a NLIS device, is at the discretion of the establishment but would be required for a disposition decision to be made other than condemnation of the carcase and offal as "not fit for human consumption". Such condemnation would also result in the product being ineligible for pet food.

4.4.2 DAFF on-plant officers

  1. Collect kidney tissue samples (muscle only if kidney not available) from calves that test positive in the urine screen for confirmatory analysis.
  2. Samples should be collected, frozen, stored and dispatched by courier direct to an approved laboratory. Refer to NRS Sample Collection and Dispatch manual.
  3. Ensure that the carcase and offal of calves tested and found to be MIT positive are excluded from export unless a confirmatory result allows (see 4.7 Final Carcase Disposition). Where agreed by the relevant State authorities these carcases and offal may be diverted to the domestic market provided any conditions (e.g. confirmatory testing and compliance with MRL) are met. Such diversion must be undertaken in consultation with the ATM.
  4. Monitor the adequacy of:
    1. individual animal identification
    2. establishment testing levels and segregation systems
    3. establishment MIT screening procedures
    4. establishment compliance with reporting requirements
    5. performance in NRS MIT proficiency testing
  5. Record results of such monitoring and report deficiencies to establishment management and ATM as appropriate.
  6. Monitor the validity of NVDs that accompany calves and/or that post-sale summaries comprise an accurate record of the relevant NVDs.

4.4.3 DAFF Export Meat Program Auditors

  1. Verify establishments have the NARM program included in their approved arrangement and effectively implemented.
  2. Where necessary, for product deemed not fit for export but eligible for human consumption for the domestic market, liaise with relevant State authorities.

4.5 Preventive Action and/or Corrective Action

In any quality control program for residues, it is important that Corrective Actions be available to eliminate or manage the detection of positive screen tests, such as:

  1. Trace back of confirmatory tests above ½ MRL in order to improve residue management of calves and resolve concerns over future animals sourced from the property involved.
  2. Targeting calves from properties with a history of MIT positives for screening.
  3. modification of stock purchasing practices by the abattoir to avoid purchasing from suppliers of stock that repeatedly contain animals that test positive, inclusion of additional declarations in contracts, etc.

4.6 Reporting Requirements

4.6.1 Establishment Management

  1. Report the number of MIT positive results to the DAFF OPS on a daily basis, along with carcase identification information to enable the collection of confirmatory tissue samples.
  2. Identify any producer who returns a confirmed positive result and communicate the positive result back to the producer.
  3. On a monthly basis and within five working days from the end of the month, provide the following information to NRS using the proforma provided by NRS:
    1. Total number of MIT screens conducted in the preceding month.
    2. Number of negative results.
    3. Number of screen positive results.
    4. NLIS device numbers and date of slaughter of all calves tested.

The NARM program reporting templates are shown in the tables below:

NARM Program MIT Positive Reporting Sheet

Please notify NRS by email (nrs@agriculture.gov.au) of each MIT positive result within 24 hours.

Establishment number:

Individual Calf Details

Date of Slaughter

NRS Sample Number

Zone Size (mm)

Type of Plate Used

 

 

National Residue Survey NARM Program

Monthly MIT Results Report

Please report this information to NRS on a monthly basis and within five working days from the end of the month.

Establishment number:

Month

Total Number of tests

No of Negative tests

No. of positive tests

Individual Calf Details

NLIS Number

Date of Slaughter


4.6.2 Laboratories

The table below indicates the NARM program reporting requirements for laboratories:

Antibacterial Residue Testing Program

Test Type

Authority Requiring Laboratory Results Report

Bobby calf screenNARM URINE SCREEN
  • NRS
  • QA Manager of submitting abattoir
  • DAFF on-plant officers at submitting abattoir
Bobby calf confirmatory (following urine positive)NARM TISSUE CONFIRMATORY
  • NRS
  • State/Territory Residue Coordinator
  • QA Manager of submitting abattoir
  • DAFF on-plant officers at submitting abattoir

4.6.3 DAFF on-plant officers

  1. Notify NRS by email of each MIT positive result within 24 hours. Provide the following information about each animal testing positive using the proforma provided by NRS:
    1. Date of slaughter
    2. NLIS number
    3. NRS sample number allocated to tissue sample for confirmatory analysis
    4. Zone size (mm)
    5. Type of plate used
  2. Provide copy of the NVD to NRS, preferably a scanned copy sent by email.
    • In the event the NVD cannot be provided electronically fax copy to NRS
  3. Notify abattoir management, upon receipt of confirmatory testing results of the final disposition of the carcase and associated offal based on the laboratory test result.
  4. For targeted animal carcase that are to be released to the domestic market:
  5. Consult with the ATM to ensure the relevant state and territory authorities responsible for domestic meat inspection are notified of laboratory results and final carcase disposition (See Final Carcase Disposition 4.7 for details).

4.6.4 NRS

  1. NRS is responsible to report violative laboratory results to the relevant state and territory Residue Coordinator and to the DAFF Export Meat Program.

4.7 Final Carcase Disposition

The screen positive animal carcase is to be processed or condemned based on the results of the confirmatory laboratory analysis.

  • Establishment management may choose to condemn carcases on the basis of screen positives prior to confirmatory results becoming available (if samples have been submitted for confirmatory analysis) or where calves are inadequately identified and where effective trace back is not possible.
  • DAFF on-plant officers must verify the disposal of all condemned carcases and associated offal.

If the laboratory result is:

  1. greater than the Australian MRL, the carcase is to be condemned and disposed of under DAFF supervision.
  2. greater than the MRL of the proposed importing country but less than the Australian MRL, the carcase and associated offal may be released to the domestic market. DAFF will notify the relevant State/Territory domestic meat inspection authority of the laboratory test outcome and the final disposition.
  3. less than both the Australian MRL and the MRL of the proposed importing country, the carcase may be released for export.

4.8 Further Information

National Residue Survey -NRS Sample Collection and Dispatch Manual.

5. Sheep Targeted Antibacterial Residue Testing (START) Program-Antibacterial Confirmatory Testing for Suspect Sheep and Lambs

The purpose of this program is to manage the risk of antibacterial residues that exceed the relevant standards in sheep and lambs slaughtered at export abattoirs.

5.1 Scope

This procedure applies to export registered establishments slaughtering sheep and lambs for export.

5.2 Background

The presence of antibacterial residues in meat products has the potential to restrict market access of Australia's produce. The START program provides an antibacterial confirmatory testing capability to DAFF on-plant officers when sheep or lambs are suspected to have been treated recently with antibacterial medications. The START program covers all sheep and lambs suspected of receiving recent antibacterial treatment.

To address the concerns of export markets including the US, EU and Japan, DAFF on-plant officers are encouraged to use the laboratory confirmatory capability provided by the START program to have samples tested when antibacterial residues are suspected.

NOTE: The TART and START programs only apply to cattle and sheep respectively. For species other than bovine or ovine, if a residue is suspected, contact the Director of the Export Meat Program via the ATM to authorise testing.

5.3 Responsibilities and Reporting Requirements

5.3.1 Establishment Management

  1. Bring to the attention of DAFF on-plant officers of any sheep and lambs identified by the NVD as receiving recent antibacterial treatment - including all sheep and lambs for which the vendor has answered "Yes" to the relevant question on the NVD in respect of such treatment (i.e. Are any of the sheep or lambs in this consignment still within a Withholding Period (WHP) or Export Slaughter Interval (ESI) following treatment with any veterinary drug or chemical?).
  2. Exclude from export the carcase and offal of sheep and lambs tested and found to contain residues above the relevant importing country standard.
  3. In consultation with the OPV condemn the carcase/s and offal of sheep/lambs tested and found to contain residues above the standards set in the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code.

5.3.2 DAFF on-plant officers

  1. Identify animals suspected of having received recent antibacterial treatment, collect and Dispatch tissue samples.
  2. Provide copies of laboratory results to establishment management.
  3. Retain the carcase and offal of tested animals until confirmatory analysis results are received.
  4. Sample any sheep and lambs identified by the NVD as receiving recent antibacterial treatment.
  5. Notify abattoir management of the final disposition of the carcase and offal based on the laboratory test result.
  6. Notify the ATM of any results where the targeted animal carcase is eligible to be released to the domestic market. (See Final Carcase Disposition for details.)

Targeted animals may include:

Sheep and lambs

- identified by the NVD as recently treated with antibacterials
- suspected of being recently treated with antibacterials
- with blue dye in the udder
- known or suspected to have been in the hospital section of a feedlot

- sheep and / or lambs exhibiting signs of:
Endocarditis
Injection sites
Injury or inflammatory conditions
Mastitis
Metritis
Pericarditis
Peritonitis
Pleuritis
Pneumonia
Septicaemia, pyemia or generalised disease

5.3.3 DAFF Export Meat Program Auditors

  1. Verify establishments have the START program included in their approved arrangement and effectively implemented.
  2. Where necessary, for product deemed not eligible for export but complying with Australian requirements and therefore eligible for human consumption for the domestic market, liaise with relevant state authorities.

5.3.4 Laboratories

  1. Laboratories are required to report results according to contractual arrangements to:
    • DAFF On-Plant Veterinarian
    • NRS

5.3.5 NRS

  1. NRS is responsible to report violative laboratory results to the relevant State or Territory Residue Coordinator and to DAFF Export Meat Programs.

5.4 Sampling

5.4.1 The following table details the samples that must be collected for the START program:

START program

Sample

Test Type

Recording of sample details

Consignment notes 3

Sheep and lambs suspected of receiving recent antibacterial drug treatment

Kidney 1

Test & hold 2

New On Demand Sample – AMK in START

START

  1. Muscle tissue is suitable for testing only if kidney is not available, but do not sample injection site granuloma.
  2. Carcases (entire carcase or boned) and all carcase parts of targeted sheep must be retained under DAFF supervision until the test results become available. No meat product from any other carcass may be placed in the same carton, irrespective if it is from another targeted animal awaiting test results
  3. Use relevant program consignment notes: refer to NRS Sample Collection and Dispatch Manual

5.4.2 Use NRS sampling consumables (bags, security satchels, boxes etc) with the specially provided consignment notes for the START program.

5.4.3 Samples should be collected and stored according to the NRS Sample Collection and Dispatch Manual with frozen samples being dispatched to the laboratory as soon as practicable.

5.5 Final Carcase Disposition

Each animal is to be tested on a 'test and hold' basis

The targeted carcase is to be processed or condemned based on the laboratory results. DAFF on-plant officers will supervise the disposal of all condemned carcases.

Condemn:

If the laboratory result is greater than the Australian MRL then the carcase is to be condemned and disposed of under DAFF supervision.

Release to Domestic Markets Only:

If the laboratory result is greater than the MRL of the proposed importing country but less than the Australian MRL, then;

  1. the carcase may be released to the domestic market.
  2. DAFF is to notify the relevant state or territory domestic meat inspection authority of the laboratory test outcome and the final carcase disposition.

Release Without Restrictions:

If the laboratory result is less than the MRL of the proposed importing country and less than the Australian MRL, then the carcase may be released to the domestic market, the proposed export market or for further processing.