The big retail companies play an increasing role in meat production and are more often setting requirements as to the way in which meat is produced. The BSE problem, and other debates on questions such as the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in meat production, have put food safety high on the agenda as an on-going topic of discussion. The premise is that meat may not contain traces of growth promoters, veterinary drugs, pesticides or environmental contaminants in quantities that could damage consumer health.
In order to come to a harmonised use of processing factors for the estimation of dietary intakes of pesticide residues found in enforcement and monitoring programmes, and by producers, a list of processing factors has been put together for priority substances as defined by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) and the Dutch Productboard for Horticulture (Productschap Tuinbouw).
The Product Board Animal Feed has a number of monitoring programmes through which it keeps a finger on the pulse. By studying the results it is able to detect undesirable developments promptly and see how they are to be managed. The monitoring programme for chemical contaminants focuses on aflatoxin, cadmium, pesticides and Salmonella.
In the Netherlands the National Inspection Service for Livestock and Meat (Rijksdienst voor de keuring van Vee en Vlees, RVV) and the General Inspection Service (Algemene Inspectie Dienst, AID), acting on behalf of the government, monitor whether the national and international regulation in the area of agricultural chemicals is being observed. But the meat production sector itself is also increasingly active in this area. To be able to guarantee food safety, limits have been set for harmful substances that may end up in meat, either intentionally or unintentionally.
In the Netherlands the National Inspection Service for Livestock and Meat draws up the National Plan on Hormones and Other Substances on behalf of the government. The plan describes how the monitoring of livestock and meat for residues is to be performed in the coming year. Each Member State of the EU is required to draw up such a monitoring plan. The plans must be approved by Brussels and the results from the monitoring of the past year must be reported to Brussels.
In the Netherlands about 0.5 percent of all animals slaughtered are examined for traces of antibiotics, using the new Dutch kidney test. This test measures an effect, such as the inhibition of bacterial growth. The test can demonstrate that bacteria growth inhibitors are present in a sample, but can not identify the specific chemical responsible for the inhibition. The proportion of animals that test positive with this test has been stable for some years at about 0.2 percent.