The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Monday new testing methods for levels of chemical residues in meat, poultry and egg products.

Through its National Residue Program (NRP), FSIS currently tests for the presence of chemical compounds, including approved and unapproved veterinary drugs, pesticides, hormones and environmental contaminants that may appear in meat, poultry and egg products. FSIS said in their press release that the new methods will conserve resources and provide reliable results.

One of the multi-residue methods being implemented for veterinary drugs will allow the agency to screen for chemical compounds that include several types of legal and illegal drugs such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and growth promoters. Under the new system, one sample may be tested for as many as 55 pesticide chemicals, nine kinds of antibiotics, various metals, and eventually more than 50 other chemicals, according to FSIS.

FSIS is also proposing to increase the annual number of samples per slaughter class from 300 to 800. If an establishment has samples containing illegal residue levels, FSIS will notify the Food and Drug Administration.

“Under veterinary oversight, poultry producers follow label instructions for the administration of approved antibiotics and adhere to strict withdrawal procedures,” said Dr. Ashley Peterson,National Chicken Council vice president of science and technology, in a press release in response to the announcement.  “The NRP already tests animal tissues and egg products for more than 90 compounds to verify that tolerances or action levels are not violated and are in compliance with USDA standards.  Chicken consistently has among the best record of any product tested by the government, and we’re confident that more data would affirm that.

“We look forward to reviewing the full contents of the Federal Register notice,” Peterson concluded.

FSIS is inviting comments on the announcement, which was published today in the Federal Register.  The new testing regiment would then take effect 30 days after the Federal Register notice is published.  The Federal Register notice is available here.