Although nationwide surveys have found illegal residues in meat and poultry at a low rate, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is seeking to improve how agency officials approach residue issues, including choosing cull cows for sampling. An FSIS survey of veterinary medical officers in plants that generally slaughter older cows shows that agency standards are not being applied uniformly.

"While it appears that most meat is well within the residue safety standards, FSIS needs to do a better job of applying its standards in a consistent manner when selecting which carcasses to test," said FSIS administrator Thomas J. Billy. He pledged to ensure that veterinarians have the proper training, staff time and equipment to conduct the necessary tests.