Terms of Reference

As an Expert Committee of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Veterinary Residues Committee will work closely with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Devolved Administrations (DA), to:

  • assess and advise on the scope and operation of the VMD statutory surveillance programme within the requirements of European Community legislation;
  • recommend an annual non-statutory surveillance programme;
  • provide independent advice to officials and key office holders such as the Chief Scientific Adviser, the Chief Veterinary Officer, or the Chief Economist, Ministers1 and other relevant bodies, on the incidence and concentrations of residues of veterinary medicines2 in samples collected under the VMD's surveillance programmes, with particular reference to food safety and observance of withdrawal periods3 for veterinary medicines;
  • support the Chief Scientific Adviser as appropriate during emergencies;
  • advise on the scope and results of relevant FSA surveys, residues incidents and research;
  • advise on research needs, the need for further analytical surveys and other evidence gaps, including on future issues of concern, analyse and interpret evidence and provide judgements on quality and relevance;
  • input to policy development and evaluation by Defra , FSA and the DA in areas covered by its remit by helping, where relevant, to: assess the impacts of different policy options; undertake risk assessment; assess new regulations and deregulation;
  • develop voluntary initiatives;
  • set up subgroups as necessary to further the work and objectives of the VRC;
  • develop links with other government departments and interested groups to further the aims of the Committee;
  • publish an Annual Report on Veterinary Residues Surveillance, and to communicate the VRC’s findings and recommendations, including advice on formal guidance and best practice to Government and stakeholders in a comprehensive, understandable and timely way;
  • report to Defra's Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA): Chairs of expert committees will meet annually with the CSA and provide an annual summary of the work of the committee for the Science Advisory Council’s (SAC’s) Annual Report;
  • and operate in line with the Government’s Principles for Scientific Advice and the Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees.

1 The Ministers referred to are: Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Ministers of the Scottish Government, the National Assembly for Wales and the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland.

2 In addition to veterinary medicines, surveillance also covers banned substances, certain heavy metals, certain dyes, organochlorines (OCs), organophosphates (OPs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

3 A withdrawal period is the length of time after the end of treatment with a veterinary medicine that must pass so that any residues in edible tissues will have depleted to below the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL)

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