General on-farm risk management includes paying close attention to any potential residue threat on-farm and minimising the risk of livestock contamination occurring.

Australia's red meat markets demand that products from farms be free of unacceptable chemical residues. Australia's ability to meet these stringent demands underpins our excellent agricultural and food safety reputation.

By following chemical label instructions and keeping good records, producers are protecting their reputations and that of the red meat industry. Good record keeping enables producers to show evidence of management practices minimising and eliminating risks of livestock residue contamination.

How do unacceptable residue levels occur?

When dealing with livestock, unacceptable residue levels can occur in a number of ways, including:

  • Contact with areas that are contaminated by persistent chemicals eg old sheep dip.
  • Inappropriate storage of chemicals, resulting in stock coming in contact with the chemicals.
  • Exposure to rubbish dumps and waste storage areas that hold old chemical containers, lead acid batteries and other potentially hazardous materials.
  • Chemical treatment of livestock, crops or pastures without reference to application methods and rates, withholding periods (WHPs), export slaughter intervals, or export grazing intervals.
  • Exposure to livestock feeds that contain unacceptable chemical contamination.
  • Exposure to agricultural products, such as spray drift from a near-by paddock.

If unacceptable chemical residues are found in animal products, a producer's livelihood and the reputation of the industry is threatened. Carcases may be condemned without payment and the producer could be held responsible for costs imposed on processors and other industry participants. Global markets may be restricted or closed which would have devastating effects on Australian agriculture.

Withholding periods and export slaughter intervals

A WHP is the time that must pass between chemical application, including through the feeding of treated feed, and the slaughter, collection, harvesting or use of the animal commodity for human consumption. These are mandatory for the domestic market and are on the label of all registered products. WHPs can apply to veterinary chemicals eg parasite treatments as well as agricultural chemicals eg herbicides.

An export slaughter interval (ESI) is the period that must lapse between chemical application to livestock and their slaughter for export. An export grazing interval (EGI) is the minimum time interval between application of a chemical to a crop or pasture that is continually grazed and slaughter.

Adherence to WHPs and ESIs is the simplest way to minimise the greatest risk of residues. The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) updates WHP and ESI species-specific lists on their website regularly, making it easy for producers to comply. It is vital that these are adhered to as they form the foundation of Australia's excellent reputation for meat safety globally.

National Vendor Declaration and Waybills

The Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) National Vendor Declaration and Waybill (NVD/Waybill) is a binding declaration made by producers upon the sale of livestock. By signing the LPA NVD/Waybill, producers are declaring that they have met basic on-farm food safety requirements, as defined by the LPA program, including the minimisation of potential residue contamination of livestock.

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