23 Jan, 2006 - Food safety bosses moved to reassure Irish consumers today after fears were raised over feed additives found in poultry meat.
Dr John O’Brien, chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), said consumers should not be worried as the levels of nicarbazin detected were low and do not pose a health risk.
“In addition, the figures reported relate to 2004 and the number of positive samples is declining year on year,” he said.
“The FSAI and the Department of Agriculture and Food thoroughly investigated these residue notifications in 2004 and were satisfied that a specific risk to consumers of poultry meat did not arise from these incidences.”
Food safety bosses said nicarbazin was an authorised feed additive for poultry used to maintain good health in flocks.
The authorities said the detection of nicarbazin residues reported by Teagasc’s National Food Residue Database (NFRD) do not pose a serious risk to consumer health.
The FSAI said it did not believe there was a risk as nicarbazin was a low toxicity additive, the levels found in chicken liver were low combined with the fact chicken liver is not eaten in large quantities.
Dr O’Brien said the additive was not a banned drug.
He said: “Poultry producers should be particularly vigilant to ensure that withdrawal periods are applied and that the potential for cross contamination of feed is kept to a minimum.
“We will continue to monitor controls to ensure that best practice is applied in the industry.”
Dr Mary Upton, a Labour Party TD, called for stricter enforcement of the requirement for long withdrawal periods to prevent traces of drugs ending up in poultry meat.
“While it has to be recognised that poultry farmers do need to treat chickens for infections by giving them these drugs, there must be stricter enforcement of the requirement for long withdrawal periods to prevent traces ending up in chicken meat,” she said.
Dr Upton said there could be no excuses for the fact 30% of fruit and vegetables sampled by the database monitoring programme found traces of pesticides residue.
“Given the potential risks to human health of pesticides that are used on fruit and vegetables, once again there must be much more control of their use in farms across the country,” the party’s spokeswoman on agriculture and food safety said.
“We like to think of ourselves as a country that produces food that complies with the highest standards of health and safety guidelines. The Irish consumer should not have to think twice about what is contained in the meat and vegetables they eat.”