Written Answers. - Management of BSE.

Mary Harney

Question:

52 Miss Harney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the exact practice that has pertained in relation to the slaughter of animals in a herd in which BSE has been discovered; the amount of compensation that has been paid by his Department to the owners of such herds; whether that compensation applies only to an infected animal or to all animals in the herd; and whether the animals in the herd, other than those actually affected by BSE, are sold on the market after slaughter. [1835/96]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

239 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the way in which his Department can ensure that cattle slaughtered for human consumption do not have BSE in the incubation period of two to eight years; and his views on whether microscopic examination of the brain does not necessarily detect BSE during the incubation period. [1917/96]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

240 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry in relation to an interview on "Morning Ireland" on 5 January 1996, regarding the disposal of meat herds where BSE had been detected, in which a Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry spokesperson said much of it would be exported, if he will make a statement in this matter in view of the fact that this appears to directly contradict a statement on his Department's BSE control measures dated 15 November 1995, which stated that his Department can certify that beef exported from Ireland is derived from animals which have not presented suspected or confirmed signs of BSE and that the animals come from herds in which BSE has not been detected. [1918/96]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52, 239 and 240 together. BSE is a notifiable disease and there is an obligation on anyone who possesses a suspect animal to report the fact to the Department without delay. All affected animals are then destroyed and buriedin situ and compensation is paid. The herds are also immediately restricted and voluntary depopulation is offered to herd owners with compensation payable at full market value. To date all herd owners have agreed to depopulate their herds and compensation has amounted to over £11 million.

As BSE is a disease of individual animals and not of herds, there is no scientific reason why the meat from the other animals in the herd cannot enter the food chain following full ante and post mortem inspection. However in order to reassure consumers, I recently announced that representative testing will be carried out on such animals following slaughter to confirm that BSE is not present.
Cattle being slaughtered receive full ante and post-mortem inspections to ensure that the meat is fit for human consumption. Any cattle displaying nervous or other symptoms suggestive of BSE are treated as BSE suspect animals and dealt with accordingly. Intensive research to date has shown that BSE can be detected only when it reaches the brain; there is no test available yet which can detect the condition at an earlier stage. Research has also revealed that infectivity in cattle is confined to the brain or spinal cord, neither of which is consumed in Ireland.
The policy of depopulation of herds in which a BSE case occurs was initiated to enable certification to be provided for third country markets that beef comes from herds in which no case of BSE was found. All markets that require this certification are supplied with meat which has come from herds in which no case of BSE has occurred and has been so certified. The policy of depopulation is therefore designed to enable market requirements to be met. It is not required on scientific or veterinary grounds as the disease is one of individual animals and not of herds. For all markets, meat is, of course, subject to ante and post-mortem examination prior to certification and stamping.