UK efforts in reducing nicarbazin residue
The British poultry industry has been actively working with the Food
Standards Agency in identifying ways in which the sector can reduce the
incidence and levels of nicarbazin residue in British chicken.
Nicarbazin is a feed additive used for the successful treatment of
coccidiosis, a potentially fatal and debilitating disease for birds. However,
testing of chicken livers as part of the National Surveillance Scheme
occasionally finds traces of the additive.
The number of samples testing
positive for nicarbazin has fallen substantially since 1998, from 25.5% in 1998
to 5.8% in 2007. However, while this reduction is welcome and levels are not a
significant food safety risk to consumers, the Food Standards Agency said wants
to reduce levels further.
"We want to see levels as low as possible and
in particular, we would like to see a fall in numbers of samples testing
100ug/kg or more," a FSA spokeswoman said. National Surveillance Scheme samples
testing over 200ug/kg are reported as positives while whose with a level over
1,000ug/kg will trigger an on-farm investigation by the Animal Medicines
The British Poultry Council said that the poultry industry
accepts that consumers require assurances that British chicken contains the
lowest possible residues of feed additives. And there is a fear that if the
industry does nothing, it risks losing nicarbazin in the longer term.
this prompted a joint industry/government project, with the aim of identifying
the causes of the contamination through a questionnaire of poultry producers. A
high response rate of 86% meant the project could gain an accurate picture of
practices on farms that both tested positive and negative.
The key finding is that there were several likely causes; all
relating to feed storage and handling, and that the higher residue levels of
over 1,000ug/kg were maybe due to a breakdown in bin management systems. The
study highlighted that although it is best practice to empty bulk bins between
feed deliveries, it does not always happen in practice, probably because
managers are reluctant to risk running out of feed. Therefore, producers are
over ordering feed containing nicarbazin, which then complicates bin management.
A key development which is set to help
producers check whether their systems are working is the launch of a new on-farm
test next year by Elanco. "We envisage producers using the device to check that
the change from nicarbazin containing feed to non-nicarbazin containing feed has
been properly implemented," Elanco said.
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