Northern Ireland achieves BSE negligible risk status

Date published: 25 May 2017

The beef industry today received a significant boost following the announcement that Northern Ireland has achieved negligible risk status for BSE.

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Notification of the risk classification upgrade to negligible risk status – the safest level - was confirmed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) at a meeting in Paris today, following an application from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) submitted in 2016.

Welcoming the announcement, Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey said; “This is a significant achievement that has been many years in the making. Northern Ireland has had no cases of BSE since 2012 and this announcement is testament to the tireless efforts of our beef producers and finishers, our red meat businesses, vets, government officials and many others who have worked together to maintain a system of interlocking safeguards against BSE that protects our public and animal health.

“The move to negligible risk status will help improve the global image of Northern Ireland as a disease-free area and could assist in opening up access to new markets across the world for our premium exports.”

Conall Donnelly, CEO of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association, welcomed the OIE decision. He said: “This is a strong endorsement of the health standards of the Northern Ireland herd. This will pay dividends in terms of our international reputation and will be a significant factor in helping to further develop our access to global markets.

“As an industry we will be seeking to work closely with government to capitalise on Negligible Risk Status and ensure the greatest possible benefit.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is one of a group of diseases of the brain which can be fatal.
  2. The Government has had 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.
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  6. All media enquiries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office or via telephone on 02890 524619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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