What is the Veterinary Residues Committee?

The VRC oversees surveillance programmes operated by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to sample and test for a wide range of veterinary residues in food of animal origin to ensure there are no safety concerns. The members of the VRC are independent of Government and include scientists, representatives from the food and agriculture industries, and lay consumer representatives. For more details about our role visit the About Us page.

Key Values

The work of the VRC is carried out according to the following principles:

  • We aim to report facts independently and without bias using an evidence-based approach.
  • We do not take a stance on whether veterinary medicinal products should be used or not.
  • We support informed consumer choice when buying food.
  • We operate a policy of openness and transparency, particularly by reporting all findings.

What does the VRC do?

  • We advise on the scope and analysis of programmes that monitor the levels of veterinary drugs in national produce and imported foods as well as assisting in the assessment of the risk to human health.
  • We also make assessments of residues that may be of concern to particular groups of consumers – including substances which are specifically prohibited from use in the EU (and which therefore should not be present in imports from third countries).
  • Where persistent problems are found we can recommend action, including focused testing, and, if necessary, advise the regulatory authority so that enforcement action is taken.
  • We act as a check on the regulatory regime.

The VRC is committed to working as transparently as possible and all the meeting agendas and minutes are published, as are the majority of papers discussed by the Committee. To view meeting papers please visit the Meetings page.

What Surveillance is there for Veterinary Residues?

 Two surveillance schemes are overseen by the VRC:

  • The larger one is the National Surveillance Scheme. This is funded mainly by the livestock industry and tests UK food from animals. All EU countries have a legal requirement to test their produce for residues of veterinary medicines, pesticides and heavy metals.
  • The second scheme, the Non-Statutory Surveillance Scheme, funded by Defra, concentrates on testing imported foods.

In addition to the Non-Statutory Scheme, sampling of imported foods also takes place at the point of entry under the Veterinary Checks Directive (Directive 97/78/EC) as part of the UK National Control Plan.  The VRC sees a summary of these results and annually requests results of any residues surveillance carried out by retailers and food businesses as part of their 'due diligence' responsibilities.

For more information about how the schemes work please visit the Surveillance Information page.

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