Irish admit old-beef BSE risk
By Donald MacPhail
THE Irish food board has admitted it cannot guarantee that beef from older cattle most at risk from BSE is not being illegally exported to Britain.
But Bord Bía rejects claims that Ireland does not have enough beef from cattle aged under 30 months old to import to Britain.
This follows National Beef Association claims that a dearth of young cattle meant 15,000 of tonnes of beef from older Irish cattle flooded into Britain last year.
Since BSE control measures were introduced in Britain in 1996, it has been illegal for beef from cattle aged over 30 months to be sold for human consumption.
Mark Zieg, Bord Bía trade marketing specialist, refused to say that older beef was not finding its way into Britain.
“Its something which is possible, but there is no reason for it to happen and it would be highly irresponsible as there is plenty of beef under thirty months.”
Mr Zieg said Ireland slaughtered 900,000 cattle – 300,000 tonnes of beef – under 30 months old in 2000.
This figure is approximately three times the figure for Irish beef exports to the UK in 2000, he said, proving that there is no shortage of younger stock.
He added that the UK was Irelands most important market for beef producers, and customers regularly audit control systems to ensure older beef is not sold.
“I think the figures speak for themselves, and beyond that is speculation which is something I wouldnt want to get into,” said Mr Zieg.