Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, September 2021
|NRS 2020-21 Industry brochure: Sheep PDF||4||1.3 MB|
|NRS 2020-21 Industry brochure: Sheep - Arabic PDF||4||1.3 MB|
|NRS 2020-21 Industry brochure: Sheep - Chinese PDF||4||1.3 MB|
|NRS 2020-21 Industry brochure: Sheep - Japanese PDF||4||1.3 MB|
|NRS 2020-21 Industry brochure: Sheep - Korean PDF||4||1.3 MB|
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- In 2020–21, the overall compliance with Australian standards was 99.86 percent.
- Australian sheep producers continue to demonstrate a high degree of good agricultural practice.
- The National Residue Survey’s quality management system is ISO 9001:2015 certified.
The National Residue Survey (NRS) operates within the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and since 1992 has been funded by industries through levies and direct contracts.
The NRS is an essential part of Australia’s pesticide and veterinary medicine residue management framework providing verification of good agricultural practice in support of chemical control-of-use legislation and guidelines.
NRS programs monitor the levels of, and associated risks from, pesticides and veterinary medicine residues and contaminants in Australian food products. The programs help to facilitate and encourage ongoing access to domestic and export markets. NRS supports Australia’s primary producers and food processors who provide quality animal, grain and horticulture products which meet both Australian and relevant international standards.
Sheep program overview
The sheep program has been operating since the early 1960s and is funded by the NRS component of the sheep transaction levy. The program involves the testing of Australian sheep tissue samples for a range of pesticides, veterinary medicines and environmental contaminants.
The program ensures sheep meat exports satisfy Australian export certification and importing country requirements. In addition, the program supports industry quality assurance initiatives and enables domestic meat processing facilities to satisfy state and territory government regulatory authority licensing requirements.
The number of samples collected is based on Australian production levels and/or overseas export market requirements.
Samples are collected by authorised government officers at export abattoirs and by quality control officers at domestic establishments from randomly selected carcases along the processing chain, in accordance with NRS requirements.
Analytical screens are developed in consultation with the industry and take into account chemicals registered in Australia, chemical residue profiles and overseas market requirements.
Sheep samples are screened for a range of pesticides, veterinary medicines and environmental contaminants, as shown in Table 1.
|Analytical screen||Chemical group||Analytes|
|Veterinary medicines and pesticides||Anthelmintics||includes macrocyclic lactones, salicylanilides and benzimidazoles|
|Antimicrobials||includes aminoglycosides, anticoccidials, beta lactams, quinolones, macrolides, nitrofurans, phenicols, sulfonamides and tetracyclines|
|Hormones||including stilbenes, corticosteroids, resorcylic acid lactones and androgenic steroids|
|Other medicines||including beta-agonists and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs|
|Pesticides||insecticides, fungicides and herbicides|
|Environmental contaminants||Organochlorines||aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, DDT, endrin, HCB, HCH, heptachlor, lindane, mirex, PCBs and pentachlorobenzene|
|Metals||antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury|
In 2020–21, a total of 2,905 samples were collected for analysis. The results were compared with Australian standards and where relevant, international standards.
A summary of sheep sample compliance with Australian standards over the past six years is provided in Table 2. The results highlight excellent compliance with Australian standards and demonstrate the strong commitment of the industry to good agricultural practice. The consistently high compliance rates help maintain the reputation and integrity of Australian sheep in domestic and international markets.
The yearly summary datasets for the sheep program are located on the department’s website
|Years||Samples collected||Compliance rates (%)|
Laboratory selection and performance
The NRS contracts laboratories to analyse animal and plant product samples for pesticide/veterinary medicine residues and environmental contaminants.
Laboratories are selected through the Australian Government tendering process on the basis of their proficiency and value for money. Laboratories must be accredited to international standard ISO/IEC 17025 at commencement of testing.
Contracted laboratories are proficiency tested by the NRS to ensure the validity of their analytical results and technical competence.
The NRS has been accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities as a proficiency test provider since July 2005.
International export markets
The NRS maintains information on maximum residue limits (MRLs) that apply for Australia and major export markets for industries supported by the NRS. All analysis results are checked for compliance with Australian standards and relevant international MRLs.
For the Australian MRL standard see legislation.gov.au/Series/F2019L01105
For MRL requirements for some international export markets see links at agriculture.gov.au/nrs-databases.