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Food safety: Shortcomings detected in Icelandic controls of meat and milk products



Official controls in Iceland need to be tightened to ensure that meat and milk does not contain residues of veterinary medicinal products. This is the main conclusion of a report published by the EFTA Surveillance Authority today.

The Authority carried out a mission to Iceland in December 2011 to verify that official controls related to residues and contaminants in live animals and animal products, including controls on veterinary medicinal products, were carried out in compliance with the European Economic Area legislation.

The major shortcomings found in the system for official controls included:  

  • veterinarians do not write prescriptions, leaving farmers without written information on when medicines are eliminated from the body of the animals (withdrawal times) before they are allowed to be milked or sent for slaughter;
  • during the investigation evidence was found that a cow had been treated with antibiotics, but had nevertheless been sent for slaughter within the withdrawal time for the medication used;
  • slaughterhouses do not always have information or routines in place to ensure that medicated animals are not slaughtered within the withdrawal times;
  • so far no inspections have been carried out in sheep and horse farms concerning use and distribution of veterinary medicines. A large number of veterinarians has not been controlled at all by the competent authorities;
  • veterinarians are providing medicine to the same farms where they are responsible for official controls of the use of the medicine. This may constitute a possible conflict of interest;
  • shortcomings in the laboratory network included non-accredited/-validated analytical methods which could cause inaccurate results.


The competent national authority (MAST) has taken note of the shortcomings identified, and has started addressing most of them in its reply to the draft report that included a table of corrective actions addressing the recommendations contained in the report. MAST's reply is annexed to the final report.


Read the final report here.


For further information, please contact:


Mr. Trygve Mellvang-Berg
Press & Information Officer
tel: (+32)(0)2 286 18 66
gsm: (+32)(0)492 900 187

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