Any programme for determining the incidence of residues of therapeutic substances in meat requires an effective programme of sampling which ensures that the data obtained from a sample are representative of the population from which the sample was drawn. The organisation of such a system in the UK has been achieved in the past two years and a routine testing programme is now possible. Apart from general microbiological screening tests which can be used to detect the presence of most antibiotics in meat, the development of an effective programme of testing meat for residues of therapeutics has also been limited, until recently, by the lack of suitable methods for their detection. However, the use of immunoassay methods now enables very low levels of anabolic growth promoters to be detected and multiresidue tests for anthelmintics are being investigated. In the case of certain important antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, neomycin and the sulphonamides, the microbiological screening tests used at present are insensitive and individual chemical or other methods will have to be used for their detection.
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