Food Law News - EU - 2001

FSA Press Release (2001/0101), 22 March 2001

BSE - BSE in the Republic of Ireland and the UK Consumer

A risk assessment of Irish beef, published today by the Food Standards Agency, estimates the likely size of the BSE epidemic in the Republic of Ireland and the implications for UK consumers during the year 2000. The study, by Christl Donnelly, was commissioned in December 2000 - before the current EU-wide BSE controls were introduced.

The Agency advises UK consumers that, provided the Over Thirty Month rule continues to be effectively enforced, Irish beef consumed in the UK presents a similar risk to UK-produced beef. Imported meat products from the Republic of Ireland will have had a slightly increased risk in 2000, but that was within a range previously accepted in the UK. EU-wide controls will further reduce the risks.

The study estimates that 22,000 Irish cattle were infected with BSE between 1985 and 1996. This compares with almost 1 million in the UK since the start of the BSE epidemic.

The study indicates that a total of 159 animals estimated to have been within 12 months of developing clinical symptoms of BSE entered the food chain in the Republic of Ireland in 2000.(1)

The equivalent figures for France and Great Britain are 52 and 1 respectively. The differences relate to the application of the Over Thirty Month rule in the UK that prevents older animals, which are more likely to be close to developing BSE, from entering the food chain. These rules did not apply in 2000 in France and the Republic of Ireland. Similar controls are now in force across the EU.

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