Veterinary associations in the UK and Northern Ireland have praised the timely communications on the suspected case of BSE in the Republic of Ireland.

They have also highlighted the ongoing need for robust surveillance systems north and south of the border and beyond.

The North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA) and British Veterinary Association (BVA) have both praised the measured and timely communications between the authorities on both sides of the border.

“We understand that it will be next week before we hear the results of the confirmatory tests but we commend Ireland’s agriculture minister Simon Coveney for keeping the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (DARD) Minister O’Neill fully briefed on developments with the case,” said Simon Doherty, President of NIVA and the BVA Northern Ireland Branch.

“Whilst the presentation of this case is disappointing, particularly just days after the World Animal Health Organisation granted ‘negligible risk’ status to the Republic of Ireland with respect to BSE, it highlights the robust mechanisms delivering reliable livestock disease surveillance and investigation, and ultimately food safety, reflected both in the Republic and in Northern Ireland.”

BVA President John Blackwell said that the suspected BSE clearly demonstrates that “we can never take our eye off the ball in disease surveillance.”

He pointed out that that there is zero risk to human health as the animal did not enter the food chain.

“Vigilance, robust surveillance and applications of official controls within the processing industry therefore need to be maintained,” he said.

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, Robert Huey, has stated that the North’s beef is safe to eat.