Dáil Éireann - Volume 556 - 07 November, 2002
Written Answers. - Bovine Diseases.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
112. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps he has taken or proposes to take to eliminate BSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20995/02]
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh)
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): I am satisfied that a comprehensive range of measures is in place for the control and eradication of BSE, including compulsory notification of the disease, the depopulation of herds, the 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. It has been a characteristic of Ireland's approach to BSE that we have adopted measures which have been more rigorous and in many instances in place earlier than are required by EU legislation.
As part of the response to the increasing incidence of BSE across Europe in late 2000 and the resultant crisis in consumer confidence, the European Commission introduced legislation requiring member states to use newly validated “rapid” tests to conduct active surveillance for BSE. From 1 January 2001, member states were required to test all animals over 30 months of age intended for human consumption, all casualty animals over 24 months of age and a random sample of fallen animals over 24 months of age. From 1 June 2001, this requirement was expanded to cover all fallen animals over 24 months of age. In 2001, 674,633 rapid BSE tests were conducted in Ireland. As expected, this resulted in an increase in the number of BSE-positive animals, with 246 positives confirmed in 2001 compared with 149 in 2000. Of the 246 BSE cases in 2001, 119 were identified  through active surveillance and 81 of these were among the fallen animal cohort, which would never have been intended for the human food chain in any event. This rise in numbers has continued in 2002, with 284 cases identified to the week ended 31 October 2002. This includes two cases in animals from depopulated herds. Of the cases, 192 have been identified through active surveillance and 160 of these cases have been in fallen animals.
In recent years there has been a shift in the age profile of BSE cases towards the older age categories, which indicates clearly the effectiveness of our controls. A total of 99% of cases diagnosed to date in 2002 were at least 6 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 or capable of preventing the spread of disease. 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.