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Kelly urges China to reopen its market to Irish Beef as soon as possible

Published: Wed, 08 November 2023

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Seán Kelly MEP has voiced concern over the suspension of Irish beef exports to China following an isolated case of atypical BSE. The Fine Gael MEP said this development presents a significant setback for farmers and the beef industry, particularly in light of the recent reopening of the Chinese market to Irish beef exports in January this year, following a three-year closure stemming from a prior BSE case detected in 2020.

“It does not make sense that an atypical case can cripple a whole market, when there was no danger to human health and no improper management. While this case does not impact trade generally, it’s important to note that the timeline for the resumption of beef exports is a matter for the Chinese authorities. Therefore, I call on the relevant authorities in China to reopen the market as soon as possible,” Kelly said.

The case in question was confirmed after tests conducted at the Department’s Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, revealing an instance of ‘atypical BSE’ on November 3. This case involved a 10 and a half-year-old cow, identified during the Department’s ongoing systematic surveillance of ‘fallen’ animals at ‘knackeries’.

“Importantly, the animal did not enter the food or feed chain, and there are no public health risks associated with this occurrence. Atypical BSE is a rare spontaneous event that may occur in any bovine population and is not related to feed contamination”, the Ireland South MEP stated.

“The most recent previous case of ‘atypical BSE’ in Ireland was identified in 2020. Ireland achieved the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) negligible risk status for BSE in 2021, the lowest risk rating available.

“It’s crucial to note that atypical BSE is not a condition notifiable to the WOAH and should not affect Ireland’s negligible risk status for BSE. I am confident that Ireland’s BSE controls are robust, effective, and consistent with legal requirements and best international practice. In fact, the discovery of this case exemplifies the strength of Ireland’s controls and surveillance system.”

“As a country that exports over 90% of the beef we produce, our reputation as a producer of safe, sustainable beef is paramount. Our regulatory and food safety systems allow us to provide those assurances”, Kelly added.

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