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Updated: July 4, 2016 

For more than 50 years, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines, and hormones have been commonly used to treat diseases and promote growth of animals. Majority of animal products remain safe but the improper use of drugs can leave harmful residues in these products and compromise food safety. When animal products containing veterinary drug residues enter the food chain, the risks become high as they end up being ingested by humans. 

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What happens if the drug residues in these products exceed the maximum level advised by regulatory bodies? Here are some of the risks:

  • Development of resistant bacterial strains among humans
    Human ingestion of animal drug residues has been linked to increased drug-resistance of bacteria among humans. When bacteria become resistant to drugs, these drugs become ineffective in treating infections among humans.
  • Gastric intestinal problems
    The use of growth hormones and anti-inflammatory drugs has come under the scrutiny of regional and international organizations. It has been identified that residues containing growth hormones, which have carcinogenic properties and anti-inflammatory drugs, can lead to gastric intestinal problems upon consumption.
  • Failure to comply with regulations and government controls
    International markets have become more stringent in ensuring that products imported from other countries meet the maximum residue limits for antibiotics and other veterinary drugs. 
    Failing to comply with the legally permitted maximum limits of animal drug residues may not only cause rejections of exports leading to a damaged image of the company but, most importantly, negatively affect consumer health.

What Should Be Done?

It is good to know that strict regulations are in place worldwide to monitor the levels of residue required for seafood, meat, and other animal products in the food chain. But as the acceptable level for residues in products becomes lower and the scope of substances needing monitoring broadens, animal products should be checked using the latest testing methods and highly sensitive equipment to ensure safety and compliance.

Producers, processors, importers, and exporters of animal-based food should also be committed to comply with the permitted maximum limits of drug residues in animals. Farmers and producers need to keep accurate treatment records for all animals and use drugs in accordance with their labeling and prescribed doses. Respecting the required withdrawal times is also crucial.

Finally, testing providers should develop best testing practices in the veterinary drug sector and implement a rigorous screening program to ensure that products meet even the most stringent testing levels.

To know more about food safety and food drug residue testing, please contact:

Anicia A. Santos
Business Development Manager for Food
SGS Philippines, Inc.
Tel: +63 2 784 9400 local 611


SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 85,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world.