Italy: research of residues in food of animal origin, results of the year 2021

The results of the National Plan for the research of Residues (PNR) 2021, published annually by the Italian Ministry of Health on the basis of the indications provided by European standards, show a high rate of compliance of the samples analyzed.  

The PNR aims to search for drug residues and chemical contaminants in food of animal origin, in live animals (analyzing tissues, excrements, and biological fluids), in feed and drinking water.    

The chemical substances searched were: substances with an anabolic effect and unauthorized substances, antibacterial substances (including sulfonamides and quinolones), other veterinary medical products (e.g. tranquilizers), other substances and contaminants affecting the environment (e.g. PCBs).    

In 2021, a total of 30 263 samples were collected throughout the Italian territory and used in 466 235 analytical determinations.    

The samples that gave irregular results due to the presence of residues were equal to 0.04% of the total samples taken. This result is slightly lower than those recorded in the other EU countries.    

8 774 samples (approximately 29% of all the samples taken) were analyzed for at least one antibiotic substance. For these samples, 239 248 analytical results are available. After these analyses, 19 non-compliant samples were found.    

The percentage of non-compliance recorded in 2021 for antibiotics (0.2%), compared to the total number of samples analyzed for this category of substances, is positioned on values that remain constant over the years.    

The future implementation of the European Residue Surveillance Plan, currently under discussion, will allow only quantitative methods on a limited number of samples. According to the PNR, this will make it be possible to carry out a timely and meaningful assessment of the exposure of the consumer to antibiotic residues found in products of animal origin.