Boost for beef sector as BSE risk downgraded to lowest level

In a long-awaited red letter day for the industry, exports of Scottish beef can now be traded with the lowest risk level status available for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Beef raised in Scotland is now rated as negligible risk. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Beef raised in Scotland is now rated as negligible risk. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has recognised that the BSE risk from beef raised in Scotland and Northern Ireland is at negligible risk – the safest level available.

England and Wales continue to be recognised as having controlled risk BSE status.

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Welcoming the news and the expectation that the confirmation will help also open international market access for beef exports outside of the EU, rural secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This is a landmark day for our red meat sector, with Scotland achieving the lowest possible risk status for BSE – negligible risk.”

He added: “This is reward for years of hard work from the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, producers, our red meat businesses, vets, and this government all of whom have worked tirelessly to build a failsafe system which protects our animal and public health.

“Scotland’s meat exports are currently thriving and this certification stands us in good stead for our exporters to increase Scottish Beef exports even further.”

Frank Clark, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, added: “The support given to the industry’s case by the cabinet secretary and his officials has been invaluable, delivering a major advance for our industry and a boost for member companies.”