Meat Industry Ireland said the suspension of beef exports to China is very disappointing, but “one which we hope will only be a temporary setback”, as the Department of Agriculture engages with the Chinese authorities at the highest level to restore the trade.
IFA President Tim Cullinan said the suspension is a technical issue resulting from a case of aypical BSE.
He said China took 10,000 tonnes of Irish beef last year and 2,900 tonnes in the first quarter of 2020 (less than 2% of Irish beef exports).
Eight susceptible animals were culled last week after a 14-year-old Limousin cow died of atypical BSE on a farm in Fethard, Co Tipperary. All eight tested negative for BSE.
There are no associated public health risks.
Atypical BSE occurs spontaneously in all cattle populations, the latest case does not affect Ireland’s current BSE ‘controlled risk’ status.
Ireland’s last atypical case was in 2017. It’s five years since the last case, in 2015 in Co Louth, of classical BSE (the version of the disease which was extensive in the 1980s and 1990s, associated with feeding of meat-and-bone meal).
The Fethard suckler farm had 73 cattle on the register. The cow died on Saturday, May 9, but neurological symptoms were first noted at the end of March, when the cow became ataxic and recumbent, but got back on her feet with some assistance.
A further episode occurred in April , and again on the day of her death.