‘Robust system’ spotted rare BSE

Galway IFA Livestock Chairman, Michael Flynn.
Galway IFA Livestock Chairman, Michael Flynn.

THE recent case of what is known as ‘atypical BSE’ or mad cow disease in an 18-year-old Galway cow, shows the robustness and thoroughness of the Irish animal health testing regime, according to local IFA represenatives.

Atypical BSE is a very rare occurrence of the disease, usually found in an old or very old animal, and is completely sporadic and isolated with no known cause. Between 2003 and 2015, there have been about 100 cases of atypical BSE across the EU.

Classical BSE – that first appeared in the UK back in 1986 leading to a massive crisis in the cattle industry 10 years later – was most likely spread by cattle eating feed, made up of meat and bone meal.

According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, BSE controls and checks in Ireland are robust and ensure ‘maximum consumer protection’.

Galway IFA Livestock Chairman, Michael Flynn, said that atypical BSE was an extremely rare occurrence and only showed up in a very small number of cases all over the world.

“The fact that this case was detected and identified so quickly shows the robustness and efficiency of the checking system in place,” Michael Flynn told the Farming Tribune.

According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland there are an array of health risk reduction measures in place in this country.

■ The CMMS (Cattle Movement Monitoring System) tracks the location of all animals in the national herd.

■ All animals are examined pre-slaughter by a veterinary inspectors to ensure only healthy animals are killed.

■ Detailed post-mortem examinations are carried out on all beef carcasses and offal. Suspect cattle are screened using an approved test.

■ All SRM (Specified Risk Material) is removed at the abattoir. Extensive checks are in place by veterinary inspectors to ensure that all SRMs are removed.

■ There are ongoing audits carried out by the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland) at abattoirs and meat retailers.

■ Separate storage and processing of SRMs must take place to exclude such materials from human and animal food chains.

■ SRMs are processed in high-temperature and high pressure designated facilities supervised by the Dept. of Agriculture.

■ All meat and bone meal products are excluded from the animal feed chain.