Spinal cord has been found in beef imported from the Republic of Ireland into the UK. Bovine spinal cord is classified as specified risk material (SRM) and is therefore among those parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity. Under European law, SRM must be removed immediately after slaughter, stained, and disposed of safely.

The discovery was made yesterday (Thursday 2nd August) in one out of 240 forequarters of beef being unloaded at ADM, Eastbourne. The receiving company was not responsible for the problem. The beef came from Fair Oak Foods Clonmel Ltd., Upper Irishtown, Clonmel, County Tipperary.

The beef quarter involved has been detained under the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations, pending its disposal which will be supervised by the Meat Hygiene Service. The Chief Veterinary Officer of the Republic of Ireland; the Agriculture Counsellor at the Irish Embassy in London, and the European Commission have been notified.

The name of the Irish abattoir concerned will be added to the list of European abattoirs from which beef containing spinal cord has been imported into the UK.

While SRM is among those parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity, the results so far of BSE tests conducted on healthy cattle across the EU have been described as encouraging, tending to indicate that there is no massive, hidden BSE epidemic in Europe. In the Republic of Ireland there were only two positive tests out of 84,458 animals tested
between January and the end of May this year.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. The following table gives cumulative figures for the numbers of healthy cattle tested for BSE from January to the end of May 2001, across all EU Member States. It does not include BSE suspect animals (those reported as BSE suspects) nor "at risk" animals (defined as those found dead-on-farm; emergency slaughtered animals, and those sent for normal slaughter but found to be sick at ante-mortem inspection). Adult cattle are defined as those aged 24 months or over.

RESULTS OF BSE TESTING IN THE EU, January to end May 2001
(Healthy animals only)

 
Adult cattle
(in million)
Healthy Animals

Of which No. of
Positive
(pending)

Belgique/België
1.5
122,416
11
Danmark
0.9
100,549
0
Deutschland
6.6
868,541
18
Ellas
0.3
4,717
0
Espana
3.4
96,312
22
France
11.0
801,844
25
Ireland
3.4
84,458
2
Italia
3.4
90,541
10
Luxembourg
0.1
8,990
0
Nederland
1.8
120,873
2
Österreich
1.0
77,714
0
Portugal
0.8
3,798
0 (1 pending)
Suomi-Finland
0.4
1,761
0
Sverige
0.7
0
0
United Kingdom
5.3
171
0
Total
40.8
2382685
90 (1 pending)

Source: http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/bse/testing/bse_results_en.html