The analysis of meat for environmental contaminants focuses on substances such as polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and a number of organochlorine substances, such as lindane and dieldrin/aldrin. These substances are known to be able to accumulate in the food chain. As in previous years, there were no violations of the limits set in the Commodity Act or the Pesticide Act. A certain percentage of the fat samples had a positive test result, the percentages differing per species. It is especially hexachlorobenzene and to a lesser extent lindane that are found now and then.
In the Netherlands the Dutch government and agribusiness have set up the Multi-year Plan Crop Protection. One important objective for the year 2000 is to halve the use of pesticides in comparison to 1984-1986. Other goals are to make the agricultural sector in the year 2000 less dependent on chemicals and to reduce the emission of pesticides into the environment.
A lot of attention is given in the National Plan to traces of antibiotics. There is a risk, with long-term use of antibiotics, that the bacteria causing a disease may become resistant to the antibiotic. So the excessive preventative use of antibiotics has been condemned nationally and internationally. Every country in the EU is required to check 0.1 percent of slaughtered animals for the presence of bacterial growth inhibitors, such as antibiotics and sulphonamides.
In the Netherlands, the Inspectorate for Health Protection, Commodities and Veterinary Public Health (Inspectie W en V) monitors compliance with the Pesticide Act on behalf of the government. Every year the Inspectorate takes about 10,000 samples of fruit and vegetables. These are examined for possible traces of pesticides, looking for a wide range of pesticides. The results of the analyses are compared to the residue limits set in the Pesticide Act.
In the Netherlands milk and dairy products are important agricultural products, both because of the volume of production and exports, and because of their high nutritional value. Milk and cheese have the image of being tasty and healthy, and their production has a natural image. But having a traditional image does not mean that nothing is happening in the dairy sector. In fact this segment of agribusiness is very active in developing new consumer products. In doing so the sector is responding to the wishes of the modern consumer, who appreciates convenience food and a varied and healthy diet. Because of this trend the added value of dairy products is rising, even though the volume of milk production is almost constant.
Government policy aims mainly at preventing and controlling the contamination of foodstuffs. By subjecting veterinary drugs and pesticides to strict authorisation requirements, undesirable residue accumulation in dairy products is minimised. Dairy cows can for example be exposed to traces of pesticides via the raw materials used in animal feeds, if these chemicals are used to treat the crop. When authorising these pesticides the possibility that they may end up in milk is taken into consideration.