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National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) and Import Control Plan (ICP) for food of animal origin

EU Member States are testing in particular meat, aquaculture products, milk, eggs, honey and live animals for residues of undesired substances.

Das Bild zeigt braun-weiss gescheckte Kuh (Quelle: Jurec / pixelio.de)© Jurec / pixelio.de

The National Residue Control Plan for foodstuffs of animal origin is a programme carried out since 1989 under which live animals, meat, aquaculture products, milk, eggs, and honey are inspected for residues of undesired substances. Member States in the European Union implement this programme according to uniform criteria. In Germany; the programme is coordinated by the BVL.

The Import Control Plan for products of animal origin from non-EU states has been carried out on a national scale since 2004. Consignments are inspected and samples taken at border inspection posts. This is in accordance with Annex II(1) of Regulation (EC) No 136/2004, which says that Member States must submit consignments of products presented for importation to a monitoring plan.

Aim of control programmes

The control programmes are part of the preventive framework for consumer health protection. It is the aim of the NRCP and the ICP to uncover illegal use of banned or unauthorised substances and to monitor the proper use of permitted veterinary drugs. Further, the programmes gather data about contamination with environmental contaminants such as heavy metals, and other undesired substances. Since 2010, consignments have also been tested for microbiological parameters, histamines, parasites, radioactivity, additives, GMOs, marine biotoxins and other product-specific parameters, as part of the ICP.

The NRCP is aimed at the control of animal stocks, slaughterhouses and businesses that receive unprocessed raw products. In particular, this concerns companies that process milk, eggs, honey and game. The NRCP therefore makes it possible to monitor animals and animal products from the beginning of the production process onwards. By sampling at an early stage of the production chain, it is easy to retrace the origin of products found contaminated with residues.

Sampling for the NRCP is target-orientated. This means that information about local or regional circumstances is taken into account and that reports about unauthorised or non-compliant treatment or feeding of animals are followed up. Hence, the NRCP is not aimed at attaining statistically representative data.

The ICP is aimed at controlling live animals intended for food production and animal products from third countries upon import into the European Union via Germany. The sampling is risk-based according to the risk approach of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004. As a result, the findings of controls cannot serve to draw general conclusions about the actual state of contamination of animal products with undesired substances.

What is monitored?

The NRCP covers all food-producing and slaughtered animals as well as primary products from animals. That is, the programme looks for possible residues in cattle, pigs, sheep/goat, horses, poultry, fish from aquacultures, rabbits, game, eggs, milk and honey, in accordance with EU-wide regulations.

The ICP covers all food-producing and slaughtered animals and animal products from third countries that are imported into the European Union via Germany. Tested products include: cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, rabbits, game/farmed game, intestines, gelatine/collagen, poultry/wildfowl, livestock from aquacultures, fish products, live mussels, milk/milk products, eggs/egg products, honey/apiculture products, live animals and feed of animal origin.

Organisation of the NRCP and the ICP for food of animal origin

The plans are drawn up annually by the BVL in consultation with the federal states.

Annual slaughter and production figures and live animal stock figures of the federal states form the basis for determining the states’ sample quota in the NRCP.

The NRCP contains specific provisions for each state about the number of animals or animal products to be tested, the substances to be tested for, the methodology to be used and the sampling. As regards the ICP, each state calculates the number of samples it has to take on the basis of their current import numbers of consignments from third countries.

The states organise the sampling in accordance with the standards set out in the NRCP and the ICP. Additionally, the states can freely select the substances to be tested for in a defined number of animals and products in accordance with current requirements and specific circumstances.

The state laboratories analyse the samples, record the data and send this to the BVL.

The BVL collects the inspection results from the states and evaluates it. The summarised data is reported to the European Commission and published on the internet.

The NRCP and ICP are carried out independently by the federal states as part of official food and veterinary monitoring.

Annual scope of inspections in the NRCP
CattleEvery 250th slaughtered animal
PigsEvery 2000th slaughtered animal
SheepEvery 2000th slaughtered animal
PoultryOne sample per 200 tonnes of annual production
AquaculturesOne sample per 100 tonnes of annual production
RabbitsOne sample per 30 tonnes of slaughter weight for the first 3,000 tonnes of annual product, thereafter one sample per 300 additional tonnes
Game/ farmed gameAt least 100 samples
HoneyOne sample per 30 tonnes for the first 3,000 tonnes of annual product, thereafter one sample per 300 additional tons
MilkOne sample per 15,000 tonnes of annual production
EggsOne sample per 1,000 tonnes of annual production


The National Residue Control Plan also implements the standards for the Animal Food Monitoring Regulation. In accordance with this regulation, official samples are to be taken from at least two per cent of all commercially slaughtered calves and at least 0.5 per cent of all other commercially slaughtered hoofed animals and are to be tested for residues. The other sample numbers of the National Residue Control Plan are taken into that account as far as possible.

Provisions for determining the number of investigations for the ICP say that, from 2010, at least 4% of all consignments of food of animal origin should be tested for residues of the groups of substances in Annex I of Directive 96/23/EC (previously 2%). On the other hand, it is possible for a border inspection post to reduce the frequency of sampling for residue testing to 2%, insofar as an appropriate risk assessment based on their own laboratory results or other information sources (laboratory results from other border points, RASFF notifications etc.) justifies applying a lower percentage for certain products.

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