Questions about stringency of BSE testing in non-EU nations
The incidence of BSE internationally does not tally with patterns seen in Europe in recent years.
The rigorous testing regimes that have been implemented in Ireland and across the EU have uncovered an underlying level of atypical BSE that appears to be endemic in the bovine population.
These are cases of BSE that are not linked to the feeding of contaminated meat and bonemeal; instead they are ones that occur sporadically and spontaneously within the cattle population.
In the years from 2003-2012 (which is the most recent decade that we have complete data for) the average number of atypical cases was over six, out of a bovine population of approximately 88m.
Contrast this with the six countries with the largest cattle herds in the world. India has a massive 330m head, Brazil has a sizeable 208m.
China stands at 104m, the US has 88m, Argentina 52m, and Australia 28m. Together, they account for over 80pc of the world's total cattle population of 965m.
Despite this, these countries combined reported just two cases of atypical BSE since records of the disease began in 1989.
Out of this group, only the US and Brazil have ever reported finding any BSE cases, either classical (associated with meat and bonemeal feeding) or atypical.