BSE case in Scotland will not impact Northern Ireland’s Negligible Risk status

Date published: 10 May 2024

Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir has provided reassurance that the discovery of a case of classical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Scotland will not impact Northern Ireland’s negligible risk status.


The announcement comes following news that the Scottish Government has confirmed a case of classical BSE on a farm in Ayrshire.

Minister Muir said: “The confirmation of a positive case of classical BSE is rare and while it is disappointing it proves the controls on BSE surveillance are sufficiently robust, rigorous and are effective at identifying issues as early as possible.

“At this stage there are no links to Northern Ireland and this finding will not impact on Northern Ireland’s BSE risk status."

Investigations are ongoing to identify the origin of the case and movement restrictions have been put in place. Movement of cattle from Great Britain to Northern Ireland has already been restricted since the discovery of Bluetongue in cattle in England in November.

Minister Muir added: “Working with the Food Standards Agency we have stringent controls in meat plants and animal feed companies to ensure the safety of the food chain in Northern Ireland and that beef from Northern Ireland is safe to eat.

“Contaminated feed can be a cause of BSE and I would urge farmers to ensure they source feed responsibly and are compliant with relevant Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) legislation including maintaining proper records of food supplied.

“My officials will continue to engage with colleagues in the Scottish Government and I have asked to be kept updated on developments as the investigations into the case continue.” 

Notes to editors: 

  1. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is one of a group of diseases of the brain which can be fatal to cattle:
  2. The UK Government have in place a range of livestock, food and feed controls since the late 1980s which have been very effective in controlling BSE.
  3. There are strict rules laid down for the prevention, control and eradication of such disease.
  4. The UK Government made BSE a notifiable disease in 1988.
  5. Negligible Risk (NR) status is awarded to those countries or regions which satisfy the World Organisation for Animal Health requirements in relation to BSE controls which include the necessary date of birth of the last classical BSE case, feed and risk material controls.
  6. NI, attained NR in 2017.
  7. Due to the reduced risk, NR status allows the utilisation of more material from cattle which are NR status, which reduces the material that must be disposed of after slaughter.
  8. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
  9. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office: or telephone: 028 9016 3460.
  10. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  11. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  12. Further information on this case can be found at:

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