Food Law News - EU - 2003

Council Minutes, 17-18 March 2003

CONTAMINANTS - Illegal use of Nitrofurans in Portugal

The following is an extract from the Agriculture and Fisheries Council Minutes:

The Portuguese delegation drew the attention of the Council and the Commission to the latest developments following the discovery of illegal use of nitrofurans (antibiotics) in poultry, turkey and in quail in poultry farms in Portugal (doc. 7464/03). In late October 2002 the Portuguese national reference laboratory systematically introduced, on a voluntary basis, a new, more sensitive method of analysis for detecting the metabolite (AMOZ) produced by furaltadone. The analyses carried out confronted the Portuguese authorities with positive findings, showing residues to be present, particularly in poultry meat. The Portuguese authorities have developed an action plan. The authorities have closed down several farms in the country and are now preparing to order the slaughter of a large number of poultry if the tests confirm the presence of the antibiotic. An enquiry into the use and trafficking of this antibiotic has also been opened. The use of nitrofurans, suspected of increasing the risks of cancer in humans, has been banned in the EU since 19943. Samples in the sequestrated farms have been sent for examination to laboratories in France, Germany and the Netherlands. The Spanish delegation expressed its concerns regarding this issue.

Commissioner Byrne stressed that the discovery of illegal use of nitrofurans in Portugal demonstrated the efficiency of the Community residue monitoring system. He invited Member States to monitoring for nitrofurans in their residue monitoring plans for 2003 and underlined the need for an equal approach without discrimination for all food safety issues whether for products produced in the Community or imported from third countries.

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