Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland 'safe' after mad cow disease found in Scotland

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Northern Ireland's risk status of being affected by 'mad cow disease' has not been impacted after the discovery of the disease in Scotland, a Government official has said.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered at a farm in Aberdeenshire with the Scottish government confirming its presence on Thursday.

The discovery has led to Scotland implementing a movement ban on cattle.

Investigations are underway to establish the origin of the disease, and it is the first time in 10 years the disease has been discovered in Scotland.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland Chief Veterinary Office said Northern Ireland's negligible risk status had not been compromised by the discovery.

"While this finding is disappointing, it shows that the robust and rigorous controls on BSE surveillance are effective in identifying issues as early as possible," said Dr Robert Huey.

Robert Huey (002).jpg
Northern Ireland Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey / Credit: DAERA

“The finding in Scotland does not impact on Northern Ireland’s negligible risk status. 

"We have robust control and surveillance measures in place. We have stringent controls in meat plants and meal companies to ensure meat and bone meal cannot get into feed. These measures ensure that beef from Northern Ireland is a quality product and safe to eat."

BSE - known colloquially as mad cow disease - is part of a group of diseases of the brain which can be fatal to cattle.

An outbreak of the disease between 1996 and 2001 led to more than 180,000 cattle being infected and 4.4 million being slaughtered during a programme to eradicate it.

Last year the beef industry in Northern Ireland was given a boost after being approved as an area of negligible risk for mad cow disease by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

There has not been a case of the disease in the region since 2012.

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