Analysts back Brazilian corned beef consignment refusal
Published:  14 November, 2016

The rejection of a Brazilian corned beef consignment for exceeding maximum levels of the veterinary medicine albendazole has been supported by scientists from the Government Chemist. 

The move comes after the Public Analysts responsible for testing a sample from the consignment at point of UK entry flagged up the excessive levels and refused to certify it.

A laboratory acting for the importer reported data below the maximum limit, including a finding of the parent drug which is not included in the official definition of the residue. The omission was apparently because albendazole is extensively metabolized and the metabolites are responsible for the activity of the medicine.

The Government Chemist was called in to carry out referee analysis. The results supported the findings of the Public Analysts and the consignment was rejected. More extensive analysis of additional samples also revealed spots with high concentration of albendazole marker residues in the consignment.

The finding pointed towards issues with how samples were taken from food consignments, the Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC) said.

Michael Walker, consultant science manager and nominated officer at LGC, said: “Based on the findings of all the laboratories involved, the definition of albendazole residues should be reconsidered to include the parent drug as well as its metabolites.

“More research and guidance on sampling for veterinary residues are needed to deal with ‘hot spots’ but as a backstop this interesting case shows that appeal to the Government Chemist is a viable and equitable process.”

Albendazole is used to destroy parasitic worms in ruminants. According to food safety rules, residues of the drug must not occur above maximum limits in food because of reported effects in the development of human embryos.