Written Answers. - Report on BSE.

Peadar Clohessy


10 Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Health the action, if any, he proposes to take on foot of the recommendations contained in the report of the Food Safety Advisory Board on BSE, which was recently distributed to Members, and which provides that measures should be taken to monitor the incidence of CJD and that research into both the epidemiology and diagnosis of BSE should be supported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8763/96]

The Food Safety Advisory Board's Report on BSE gives a very clear message. It tells us that the continued rigorous enforcement of the controls currently in place here will protect the consumer of beef produced in the Republic of Ireland from exposure to the agent of BSE. The main recommendation from the report is, therefore, that the existing controls should continue and be strengthened when and if necessary. I know my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, agrees with this conclusion and will do all that is necessary to protect consumers and beef producers.

In relation to the two specific recommendations in the report, the position is as follows. In the case of CJD, records of deaths in Ireland attributed to CJD are being examined. The initial examination has been completed and reveals a very low incidence, about one death per year. Further research is under way which will include examination of clinical records where they are still available.
In addition, my Department is taking steps to ensure prompt reporting of all new or suspected cases. This will involve co-operation with hospitals as well as directors of public health.
My Department is also investigating the possibility of co-operation at international level in the monitoring of the disease.
Issues relating to BSE are, of course primarily a matter for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry. However, I can tell the Deputy that the veterinary research laboratory of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is involved in collaborative research work, which also involves researchers in the UK. In addition, research is also being caried out at University College, Dublin.
I understand this latter research may entail attempts to establish an ante-mortem test for the disease.