My Department oversees the implementation of Ireland’s National Residue Control Programme. This is an extensive surveillance programme aimed at detecting and preventing entry into the food chain for human consumption of food products containing banned substances, such as growth-promoting hormones and residues of authorised veterinary medicines, approved animal feed additives and environmental contaminants in food of animal origin. The plan, which is approved each year by the European Commission, tests in the region of 19,000 samples per annum. This includes approximately 3,500 samples for a full range of growth promoting substances, including the substance clenbuterol (sometimes referred to as Angel Dust). Samples are taken both on-farm and at slaughter plants.
As the Deputy is aware, as part of routine testing at farm level under the National Residue Control Programme, a bovine sample taken from a farm in Co. Monaghan tested positive for clenbuterol. Subsequently twenty-seven further animals on the holding, representing a portion of the overall herd, were found to have positive results and were destroyed. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is fully aware of this investigation and has concluded that there is no risk to public health arising thereof.
I would emphasise that this is the only confirmed positive case of clenbuterol in Ireland since 2011 and that the last previous case was in 1999.
I am satisfied that the detection of clenbuterol in this case confirms the effectiveness of the National Residue Control Programme which is designed to provide safeguards and reassurance of high quality food both to domestic consumers and to our European and international trading partners. The range of testing conducted in Ireland exceeds European legislative requirements and the testing itself is carried out at state of the art laboratories capable of testing for the presence of substances at extremely low levels. Notwithstanding this, and in an effort to provide further reassurance on the issue, my Department will undertake a special project of testing for clenbuterol in addition to the targets already set out in the National Residue Plan.