Ireland set to return to a 'controlled risk' status

Ireland is expected to return to a ‘controlled risk’ status following the confirmation of BSE. 

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine investigated an animal from a Co. Louth farm following a positive result in a rapid screening test earlier this month.

All 63 cohort animals and four progeny involved in the probe tested negative for BSE, confirming the positive result was an isolated case of classic BSE. The grand-dam of the infected animal also tested negative, leading the Department of Agriculture to believe vertical transmission was not a factor. This is the first confirmed case of BSE in Ireland since 2013.

Controlled risk status

These results are now being passed on to the EU Commission and to the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), which is expected to reassign ‘controlled risk’ status to Ireland. The country had been operating at this status from May 2008 up until earlier this year when it was awarded ‘negligible risk’ status.

Under controlled risk conditions, there is a ban on the feeding of meat and bone meat, systematic testing of feed supplies, active and passive animal testing and checks conducted on all animals prior to slaughter by vets.

A spokesperson for Bord Bia said: “This isolated case is unfortunate, coming after the recent decision of the OIE to award Ireland ‘negligible risk status’. However, Ireland retains its ‘controlled risk status’ under which it has traded, and continues to trade, successfully in Europe and internationally. It is this ‘control risk status’ that has also enabled Ireland to achieve access to the US, Japan and to secure the recent lifting of the beef ban in China.

Irish Farmers’ Association president Eddie Downey said the fact that this isolated case was detected means “consumers can be re-assured about the robustness of the food safety controls in place in Ireland”.

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