Scotland and Northern Ireland gain safest BSE level
The status was conferred on the two countries following a meeting of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Parison.
Northern Ireland’s agriculture department DAERA said the status represents a "significant boost” for the beef industry.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey commented, "This is a significant achievement that has been many years in the making.
"Northern Ireland has had no cases of BSE since 2012 and this announcement is testament to the tireless efforts of our beef producers and finishers, our red meat businesses, vets, government officials and many others who have worked together to maintain a system of interlocking safeguards against BSE that protects our public and animal health.
"The move to negligible risk status will help improve the global image of Northern Ireland as a disease-free area and could assist in opening up access to new markets across the world for our premium exports.”
Scotland’s Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing also commented, "Scotland has had no cases of BSE since 2009.
"With Scotland already being recognised as officially TB-free this decision further vindicates our reputation for supplying beef products of the highest quality, produced to the highest standards in the world, and demonstrates the OIE’s acceptance that both our surveillance for, and measures against BSE are stringent." ■