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Changes To Cattle BSE Testing Welcomed

04 July 2011

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill and Health Minister Edwin Poots have welcomed Executive agreement to increase the minimum age for BSE testing of healthy cattle slaughtered for human consumption in the north.

The Executive has agreed to the implementation of an EU decision to allow the minimum age for BSE testing of healthy cattle to be increased from the current 48 months to 72 months.

Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The EU decision to allow this increase in the minimum testing age of cattle to 72 months acknowledges the fall in the number of BSE cases here over recent years. This is a welcome move and will deliver a modest saving for local industry coupled with a small reduction in red tape.”

The Minister went on to confirm that strict controls remain in place that will ensure all at risk cattle continue to be tested. “These testing controls, combined with the continued removal of the specified risk material such as the spinal cord and brain tissue which are considered to most likely harbour BSE, and the continued exclusion from the food chain of cattle born before August 1996, will continue to apply. These controls will maintain public confidence in our meat industry.”

Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “I welcome the move to increase the age threshold for BSE testing of healthy cattle slaughtered for human consumption from the current 48 months to 72 months.

"It is evident from SEAC's assessment that provided the prevalence of BSE continues to reduce, the risk to human health is insignificant. That said, it is vital that we are vigilant about continuing to monitor BSE so that we can be sure of the continued decline on the number of BSE cases and that any potential future increases are identified early and acted on as quickly as possible. It is good news for the industry that we can move forward on this issue with confidence, providing further assurance to consumers.

"I welcome that fact that the Food Standards Agency, which has a key role in strengthening public confidence in food production in Northern Ireland, continues to strive to ensure the protection of the food supply and public health."

TheCattleSite News Desk


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