Tesco gives Irish milk suppliers the all clear
Tesco has confirmed that it has no immediate plans to clamp down on Irish dairy herds that are positive for Johnes despite claims that the disease poses risks to humans.
The retailer has already delisted British milk suppliers that failed to implement new protocols to minimise the risk of the disease spreading on their farms.
The moves follow increasing numbers of international experts and studies linking Johnes disease with its human equivalent, Crohn’s.
Crohn’s expert Professor John Hermon-Taylor has stated that he was “absolutely certain” that some strains of Johnes cause Crohn’s disease in susceptible people. “Since MAP is known to be a primary specific cause of chronic inflammation of the intestine in many different species, including primates, it would be remarkable if it did not cause disease in humans,” he said.
However, Animal Health Ireland (AHI) pointed to a Food Safety Authority finding in 2009 that there was no evidence of a “causal relationship” between Johnes and Crohn’s disease.
It added that there were no plans for a compulsory eradication scheme to tackle the disease, despite 20.6pc of Irish dairy herds testing positive for the disease in 2005. Johnes disease prevalence amongst dairy herds participating in AHI’s Pilot Programme in 2013 and 2014 ranged from 23-34pc.
Tesco said that Ireland’s dairy industry was not comparable with Britain.
“There is currently no Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group (TSDG) in Ireland, and we currently have no plans to introduce this model, although we are always open to discussing the principles of it with our suppliers,” it said in a statement to the Farming Independent.