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Irish BSE risk status may now change


Cattle (stock photo)

Cattle (stock photo)

Getty Images

Cattle (stock photo)

Concerns are growing that Ireland's BSE risk status could be reclassified following the suspected case of mad cow disease detected on a dairy farm in Co Louth.

Ironically, Ireland's mad cow disease risk status was changed from 'controlled' to 'negligible' - the lowest possible status - just two weeks ago.

Although farming experts have successfully traded under a "controlled" status for almost two decades, a sudden turnabout would be disappointing, a farm leader said.

John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Supplier Association, has "no doubt" that test results for the five-year-old cow in question, owned by the respected and highly regarded farmer Joseph McArdle, will identify BSE.

"First of all we have to have the case confirmed and then we have to establish the way the animal contracted it," he said.

"The worse that can happen is that we will revert back to what we had been trading with for 17 years - that seems to be to be a worse-case scenario," he told the

However, he stressed that even if the results - expected within a week - do confirm the case, it is not inevitable that Ireland's status will be reverted back.

"While it is unfortunate and very disappointing that we have picked up a case of BSE, it's in no way a catastrophe," he said. "We have built a good, strong marketing reputation over the course of the last decade. It has been incremental, constant work and an isolated incident like this not going to have a major impact on our international reputation as a food producing country," he said.

In the meantime, he believes the biggest concerns for the farming community are tracing the source of this potential case and definitively confirming that it is an isolated case. "Farmers are worried," he added.

Sunday Independent