SAMW requests BSE meeting with Cabinet Secretary

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has called on the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing to meet in order to examine the case for Scotland to be upgraded to ‘negligible risk’, the highest possible bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) status. 

This would be before both England and Wales, which are not due for upgrading until 2020 at the earliest.

Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, currently has a ‘controlled risk’ BSE status, despite the fact that the last confirmed BSE case in Scotland involved an animal born in 2002. This contrasts with the last confirmed BSE case in Great Britain having involved an animal born in 2009.

SAMW believes that Scotland’s ‘all-clear’ seven-year advantage should be recognised by the prompt granting of ‘negligible risk’ BSE status for the country’s livestock, rather than being forced to wait until England and Wales qualify for their upgrade in four years’ time, according to current projections.

Allan Jess, SAMW president, said: “We have asked the Cabinet Secretary for a meeting to discuss our BSE status as soon as possible. We believe the case for Scotland moving to ‘negligible risk’ is extremely strong, based on our BSE record, and would hope the Cabinet Secretary will support us in raising our status to the highest possible level in the shortest time possible.”

Jess said the Scottish meat and livestock industry has a good reputation globally and that it is time to benefit from it. “Scotland’s meat and livestock industry is already perceived abroad as having a clean healthy image and producing wholesome high quality produce,” he said. “This image has been enhanced in recent years through our achieving of TB-free status and BVD-free status, resulting in significant benefits in accessing new export markets and capturing new customers in existing markets.  

“While it’s difficult to place a precise financial value on the benefit to Scotland’s image of gaining the desired ‘negligible risk’ BSE status, we believe it would be substantial. The major meat export plants in Scotland, for example, have indicated that gaining ‘negligible risk’ would be a significant key to unlocking the gate to new third country opportunities.”

Jess added: “In seeking to address this issue with the Cabinet Secretary, therefore, SAMW is optimistic that, by working together, we can unlock some important and valuable markets to the all-round benefit of Scotland’s livestock and meat industry.”

Alongside its request for a meeting, SAMW presented the Cabinet Secretary with a detailed analysis of the market, economic and whole-chain benefits which would result from a move to ‘negligible risk’ status.

Key benefits include:
•    reputational gain from disease-free image
•    removal of obstacles when negotiating access to new markets
•    easier access to markets where some trade already exists
•    trading advantage over competitors from ‘controlled risk’ countries
•    equal trading status with other ‘negligible risk’ countries
•    opportunity to trade in the most lucrative global markets
•    removal of costly and unnecessary SRM procedures
•    reduction of SRM disposal costs, and
•    better returns for other links in the supply chain.

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