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Organochlorine residues on your property

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014 you have a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to manage the risks from organochlorine (OC) chemicals. Your GBO obliges you to minimise biosecurity risks that concern human health, the environment, and the economy.

If your property has cattle and is at risk of organochlorine contamination, it will be classified with a status under the National Organochlorine Residue Management (NORM) program. If the continued presence of OCs causes a biosecurity risk on a place, the place may be declared a restricted place under the Biosecurity Act 2014. The status of your property is determined by the risk of OC contamination in cattle produced on your property. Once declared, restrictions may apply on how the place can be used and on how cattle on the place can be dealt with. Biosecurity Queensland maintains a list of restricted places on the Biosecurity Register.

Information on the residue status assigned to a place or cattle on that place is provided to National Extended Residue Program (ERP) database and the National Livestock Identification System. Authorised recipients, including saleyard and abattoir operators, can access the data before sale or slaughter to determine the OC status and the relevant contaminant testing rates, enabling businesses to make residue risk management decisions when slaughtering animals.

Organochlorine status classifications

Non-LPA properties will be targeted for testing

Current ERP database OC status classifications and testing criteria
ERP* status Property OC risk status Testing rate Product fate Payment for tests
T4 High 100% of lots
10 in lot, 1 targeted sentinel
Test sentinel(s) and hold all
If result is > 50% MRL, test all companions
Commercial arrangements apply*
T3F Medium - high

100% of lots
1 targeted sentinel
(1 of 10, 2 of 20 & over 20 then 3 animals)

Test sentinel and hold all
If result is > 50% MRL, test all companions
Industry funding#
T3V Medium - high 100% of lots
1 targeted sentinel
If result is > 50% MRL, test all companions
Test sentinel and hold all
Commercial arrangements apply*
T1F Low 100% of lots
1 targeted sentinel
If result is > 50% MRL, test all companions
Test sentinel and hold all
Industry funding#
T1V Low 100% of lots
1 targeted sentinel
If result is > 50% MRL, test all companions
Test sentinel and hold all
Commercial arrangements apply*
R^ Resolved Non-LPA properties will be targeted for testing   
C (no ERP) Not known Not applicable   

ERP = Extended Residue Program, OC = Organochlorine, MRL = Maximum Residual Limits

* Costs for residue analysis are a commercial matter between the abattoir and the vendor.

# Industry funding is used for residue analysis for 12 months from the initial status assignment. Statuses will change to T1V and T3V automatically after 12 months unless resolved by residue management plan.

^ R status properties may be targeted for testing if the property is not Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accredited.

The Livestock Production Assurance program

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) developed the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program to help producers ensure that unacceptable chemical residues and contaminants do not occur in livestock presented for slaughter. An important part of the LPA program is property risk assessment. This helps you ensure that livestock are not exposed to areas on the property that are contaminated with OCs or other persistent chemicals.

Contact the MLA on 1800 683 111 for more information about the LPA program and residue risk assessment of your property.

Residue minimisation plans

If your property is considered at risk or has a resolved status, you will need a residue minimisation plan. This plan will help you manage your cattle to ensure that OC contaminants do not exceed the legally defined limits (Extraneous Residual Limits (ERL)).

The plan is subject to audit to ensure that:

  • it meets specified management arrangements to minimise OC residues in cattle
  • the processes have been properly put in place and are effective
  • it continues to minimise the risk of OC contaminants in animals presented for slaughter.

You can contact Biosecurity Queensland for help on developing a plan for your property.

Remember that soil levels are a guide only and fat biopsies should be performed to determine the actual OC levels in cattle from your property.

If OC contaminants are detected in your soil samples, this will not affect your property's OC status under the NORM program. It will help you to identify hazard sites under your LPA risk assessment and to develop a residue plan to manage the suspect site.

Minimising the risk of residues and OC contaminants in cattle

You can reduce the risk of OC residues in your cattle by:

  • removing stubble from crops grown on land that was previously treated with OCs or by-products that have been in contact with OC-contaminated soil
  • keeping them away from orchards or other areas that have ever been treated with OCs
  • feeding them pastures or fodder crops that have not been grown on land that has previously been treated with OCs
  • using storage facilities that have not been treated with OCs, and avoiding those with concrete or earthen bases that may still be contaminated
  • removing fence posts or other structures where OCs may have been used to control termites
  • fencing off old chemical disposal sites.

Failure to manage the risks from such chemicals and contaminants may constitute a failure to meet your general biosecurity obligation (GBO) under the Biosecurity Act 2014. Your GBO obliges you to minimise biosecurity risks that concern human health, the environment, and the economy.

Contaminant Standards

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 adopts the contaminant standards for heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine chemicals from schedule 19 and schedule 21 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code as the acceptable levels for contaminants in plant and animal food commodities.

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