Dáil Éireann - Volume 556 - 07 November, 2002
Written Answers. - Bovine Diseases.
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
36. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of cases of BSE discovered in cattle born after 1996; his views regarding this development; the way in which he intends to restore consumer confidence in the beef industry in the wake of these specific developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20812/02]
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh)
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): In Ireland there have been three confirmed cases of BSE in cattle born after 1996. I do not consider this to be a matter of serious concern. In recent years there has been a significant shift in the age profile of BSE cases which indicates clearly the effectiveness of our controls. The number of five year old cases detected to date this year is significantly down on last year's level of 38. A total of 99% of cases diagnosed to date in 2002 were at least six years old at the time of diagnosis compared with 84% in 2001 and 60% in 2000. In terms of case numbers, 281 of the 284 cases diagnosed to date in 2002 were born in 1996 or earlier. No cases have been diagnosed in animals born in 1998, the year from which the scientific steering committee judged Ireland's control system to be optimally stable.
 I am satisfied that a comprehensive range of measures is in place to protect consumers and for the control and eradication of BSE. These include compulsory notification of the disease, depopulation of herds, tracing and slaughter of birth cohorts and progeny of the infected animal, a ban on the use of meat and bone meal for farmed animals and removal and destruction of specified risk materials from ruminant animals. The testing of all animals over 30 months of age prior to slaughter provides further protection. Ireland's approach to BSE has been characterised by more rigorous measures that, in many instances, were put in place earlier than required by EU legislation. The purpose of the control programme is to protect human health by maintaining high standards of food safety and animal health and welfare, to safeguard the economically important beef industry and, in due course, to eradicate the disease from the national herd. Ireland's measures to deal with BSE have been independently scrutinised by bodies such as the EU Food and Veterinary Office and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and have been found time and again to be comprehensive, rigorous and reliable.
Dáil Éireann 556 Written Answers. Bovine Diseases.