Suspected BSE case will not affect recent deal with US

As authorities here explore likely causes, US confirms latest case will not impact beef deal

The emergence of a suspected case of BSE in Ireland, the first in two years, will not impact Washington's recent decision to lift its ban on Irish beef imports.

As veterinary inspectors here continue to investigate the likely cause of the suspected case on a Louth dairy farm, a US department of agriculture spokesman told The Irish Times: "Currently, there are no trade implications".

" Ireland, like the United States and our other trading partners, has mitigations in place to protect both humans and animals from BSE, including feed bans to protect animal health and protecting public health through the removal of risky tissues (also known as 'specified risk materials', or SRMs) from the food supply," he said.

In January, Ireland became the first European country to be granted access to the US beef market following a 16-year ban stretching back to the BSE crisis of the 1990s.


Earlier this month Ireland was also granted “negligible risk status” for the disease by World Organisation for Animal Health, a status which is awarded to countries which are completely free of BSE.

However, this is likely to be rescinded in the wake of the latest case, with strong indications suggesting the initial results will be confirmed.

The development is seen as a something of a setback for the industry, which had also recently won access to the fast-growing Chinese market.

Isolated cases of BSE are not uncommon, however, with department figures showing there was one confirmed case in 2013 and three the previous year.

The dairy farm at the centre of the scare is in a quiet rural area close to Louth village, with a 120-strong dairy herd.

Authorities are exploring three possible causes of the suspected case in a five-year-old Rotbunt cow. First, the cow may have contracted the disease from consuming contaminated feed, considered the most likely reason.

However, it is also possible the animal may have contracted it genetically or that it could be atypical BSE, which can occur sporadically among cattle.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times