Department applies to downgrade Ireland’s BSE risk status to ‘negligible’

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has applied to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to have Ireland’s BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) risk status downgraded from ‘controlled’ to the lowest status of ‘negligible’.

A department spokesperson said that the OIE will consider the application in May this year.

The OIE has a complicated system of determining if a country is fit for negligible risk status. However, it is worth noting that ‘atypical’ BSE (of which there was a case in Ireland early last year, and which resulted in the suspension of Irish beef exports to China) does not count towards determining BSE risk categories.


The gain negligible status, a risk assessment in line with OIE guidelines must be carried out, and certain surveillance measures, again in accordance with OIE guidelines, must be in place.

As well as that, a county must demonstrate that either of the following set of criteria are met:

The first set of criteria is: That there has been no case of BSE, or if there has been a case, every case was shown to have been imported and completely destroyed; that measures around awareness, compulsory notification and examination of brain or other tissue is complied with for seven years; and that it can be shown through control and audit that neither meat and bone meal, nor greaves, derived from ruminants, have been fed to ruminants for eight years.

The second criteria that can qualify a country for negligible status is: That, if there has been an indigenous case, every such case was born more than 11 years ago; that the same measures described above concerning awareness, notification, examination and feed are observed; and that all BSE cases and all cattle reared with BSE cases during the first year of life and which may have consumed the same contaminated feed, if alive in the country, are permanently identified and controlled, and are completely destroyed at slaughter or death.

Earlier this month, January 14, saw the completion of 11 full years since the birth of the last indigenous case of BSE here.