Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Beef trade safe after tests show BSE case 'isolated'

The case of BSE that emerged two weeks ago has been confirmed as an
The case of BSE that emerged two weeks ago has been confirmed as an "isolated" case
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

There are no concerns over the commercial animal feed chain after final tests on a dairy cow proved positive for BSE, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The case in a rare breed Rotbunt five-year-old dairy cow that emerged two weeks ago on the farm of Joseph McArdle near Louth village has been confirmed as an "isolated" case of BSE. It is the first case in Ireland since 2013.

In total, 67 animals on the farm around the birthdate of the cow have been killed - including four offspring - and all have tested negative for BSE, commonly known as Mad Cow Disease.

"No concerns arise regarding the integrity of the commercial feed supply chain or the effectiveness of the feed control systems," the department stated.

It pointed out test results from feed on the farm were negative for meat and bonemeal - which has been banned since the 1990s, following an outbreak of BSE.


During 2009 and 2010, there were 2,500 feed samples, including 52 from suppliers to the McArdle farm, tested for the presence of meat and bone meal. All tested negative.

"The investigation has not identified anything to distinguish this case from the other cases of classical BSE that have been seen in Ireland or elsewhere. The identification of classical BSE cases after the implementation of the ban on the feeding of meal and bonemeal is not unprecedented," it stated.

Both the mother and the grandmother of the infected animal tested negative for BSE - which means they were not the source of transmission.

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Ireland's risk for BSE had been changed from 'controlled' risk status to 'negligible' risk, or effectively BSE-free, just days before the suspect case was discovered through tests on the cow that had died on the farm.

However, the department said it was expected that the world animal health body, the OIE, would now move to reassign 'controlled risk' status to Ireland.

The single case of BSE is unlikely to have any impact on the €2.2bn beef trade as Ireland had already gained access to large markets such as the US and China before being granted the newly-improved status.

The Irish Farmers' Association president Eddie Downey said markets had responded in a calm manner and consumers could be assured about Ireland's robust "food safety controls".

Irish Independent