Northern Ireland applies for BSE Negligible Risk status

Northern Ireland has applied for BSE Negligible Risk status after the north’s Minister for Agriculture, Michelle McIlveen, submitted an application to the World Organisation for Animal Heath (OIE).

Currently Northern Ireland has Controlled Risk status, as does Britain and the Republic of Ireland and McIlveen said the Department has worked closely with industry representatives on the issue of BSE.

“There is considerable support for the view that if we could secure BSE Negligible Risk status.

“It could help improve our global image as a disease-free area and possibly provide access to new markets across the world for our premium exports,” she said.

The Minister for Agriculture also said that BSE Negligible Risk status has the potential to drive export growth, while the views of stakeholders were also taken on board.

We have ensured that the views of other stakeholders, including retailers and consumers, have been considered through the consultation process.

“I have also involved the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency in this proposal from an early stage in order to get the best possible advice from a public health perspective.

“People can be assured that public safety is our number one consideration at all times,” she said.

UFU backs application for BSE Negligible Risk status

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed Farm Minister, Michelle McIlveen’s application to seek official BSE Negligible Risk status.

UFU Deputy President, Victor Chestnutt, said the UFU has been pressing the Department since December of last year to prioritise this application.

He added that while the current Controlled Risk status opened many markets, the Negligible Risk status would send a more positive image of our animal health status to countries the local beef industry wants to access.

“Our industry has worked hard to get into a position where we can supply a product that meets world-leading standards.

“However we have been held back by the stigma associated with BSE as we try to access new markets,” he said.

BSE in Ireland

Ireland lost its BSE Negligible Risk status back in 2015 when an animal tested positive for the disease on a Co. Louth farm.

The case, involving a single animal, returned a positive result, which the Department described as being a ‘classical’ case.

And as a result of the this case, the OIE reassigned Ireland’s BSE status to being controlled risk, recognising the robust control systems in place which identified this once-off case and which will continue to underpin the safe trade in products from Ireland.