NI joins Scotland in BSE lowest risk classification

Beef exporters in Northern Ireland have received a “huge boost” after being granted the lowest risk level for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) officials recognised Northern Ireland’s BSE status back in May after last October’s application, with European Union endorsement coming last month (27 July).

This means Northern Ireland follows Scotland in publicising the classification, both confirmed by the OIE at its Paris meeting on 25 May.

See also: Northern Ireland applies for BSE risk to be downgraded

Meanwhile, England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland continue to have “controlled risk status”, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) announced on Monday (31 July).

Having the lowest risk status provides an “excellent platform” to increase beef exports to international markets, said chief veterinary officer Robert Huey.

Last year, the Ulster Farmers Union said BSE remained a considerable concern for some Asian countries, who could potentially deliver trade worth £12m/year.

Strong endorsement

“This is a huge boost for the beef sector in Northern Ireland and the culmination of years of invaluable work by our beef producers and finishers, red meat business, vets, government officials and many others,” he added.

Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association chief executive office Conall Donnelly said it was a “strong endorsement” of the country’s animal health standards.

He added the industry was “working closely with government to capitalise on Negligible Risk Status and ensure the greatest possible benefit”.