The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in the Republic has said that test results on a rare breed cow in Co.Louth have confirmed it is a classical BSE case in a single animal.
Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said the incident proves the value of the robust surveillance measures that are in place and she emphasised that there is no risk to public health.
She added: “The implications for us in the north are no different today than they were before this incident. We have robust control and surveillance measures in place. We have stringent controls in meat plants and meal companies to ensure that meat and bone meal cannot get into feed. These measures ensure that beef from the north is safe to eat.
“The last confirmed case in the south was two years ago. It was handled effectively then and I have no reason to believe that this has been any different.
“I have spoken with my counterpart in the south Minister Simon Coveney and he has assured me the proper process was followed. The case was originally identified through DAFM’s on-going surveillance system. The farmer took the animal to a knackery. The correct tests were carried out and the carcase held until results came back. The animal was not presented for slaughter and did not enter the food chain.
“The authorities in the south have carried out a detailed investigation of this incident. This investigation has not identified anything to distinguish this case from the others of classical BSE that have been seen throughout Europe and elsewhere. The investigation has also ruled out vertical transmission as a factor in this case.
“The public can remain confident that we are constantly vigilant and that controlled systems are in place to ensure that only safe, high-quality beef enters our food chain. My department has been communicating directly with key stakeholders across the industry to provide this reassurance.”
Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey said: “The detection of this BSE case in the south proves the robust and rigorous controls on BSE surveillance – required under EU Regulations - are effective in identifying issues as early as possible. These measures are further bolstered in the north by checks and controls within meat plants which prevent infected tissues from entering the food chain and by regular sampling of animal feed. Our beef remains a quality product and safe to eat.”