Top chef Thornton: BSE a worry for restaurant trade
One of the country's top chefs says the BSE scare is "very worrying" for the Irish food sector but says he is hopeful any damage will be minimal if it proves to be a "one-off case".
As farmers face an anxious wait for test results on a Co Louth cow suspected of having BSE, celebrity chef Kevin Thornton last night admitted chefs and restaurateurs are worried about the impact on the food sector here.
"We're all concerned because we want to produce the best produce possible," he said.
"We all know - at least I do, anyway - where all our meat is coming from and of course it's worrying and you just hope it is a one-off incident."
He added he was hopeful there would be little damage caused to the Irish food sector if it proves to be "a one-off case".
Test results on the five-year-old milking cow that died on a Co Louth farm last week are expected some time between Wednesday and Friday of this week.
The Department of Agriculture has said it is confident the results will be positive for the disease which has the potential to set Ireland's beef industry back years.
If the test is positive, Ireland's status as producing quality beef will revert from being 'negligible risk' to 'controlled risk'.
The downgrade is considered potentially devastating to Ireland's beef export trade, and could also affect consumer confidence here.
Despite the concerns of chefs, meat processing companies reported business as normal over the past week. A spokesperson for Dawn Meats said: "There has been no impact on sales" and it will continue "to monitor the situation".
It is understood other companies, including the Larry Goodman-owned ABP Food Group, have also not been adversely affected.
The Irish Farmers Association said the origin of the BSE could have an impact on whether or not the World Organisation for Animal Health downgrades Ireland's status.
IFA president Eddie Downey said: "This could be just an animal that was predisposed to this and it's in its genetics.If it is, then I think we have a good case today to hold on to the status that we have."
Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president John Comer said Ireland has traded "very successfully with 'controlled risk status' before" and would continue to do so.