Scotland has achieved the lowest risk level status available for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).
Notification of the risk classification upgrade to negligible risk status was confirmed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris.
The OIE has recognised that the official BSE risk status of both Scotland and Northern Ireland is at the safest level, a move expected to help open international market access for beef exports. England and Wales continue to be recognised as having controlled risk BSE status.
Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“This is a significant achievement that has been many years in the making. Scotland has had no cases of BSE since 2009 and this announcement is testament to many peoples tireless efforts, including SAMW, our beef producers and finishers, our red meat businesses, vets, and this government. We have all worked together to maintain a system of interlocking safeguards against BSE that protects our public and animal health.
“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.
“Having achieved negligible risk status, Scotland has an even stronger foundation to continue to increase Scottish beef exports across the world.”
Frank Clark, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) said:
“Scotland has lived with BSE since 1986 and the farming and meat industries have made massive efforts to manage and eradicate the disease. Today’s decision frees our industry to make full commercial use of Scotland’s high-health status on behalf of producers, processors and wholesalers, opening the door to fresh marketing opportunities around the world. Once the campaign began, the Cabinet Secretary, his officials and all Scotland’s food and farm bodies worked together to deliver today’s decision, which is of such great importance to the whole industry.”