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Minister Smith Welcomes introduction of Increase in Age for BSE Testing to 48 Months

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed that the minimum age for BSE testing of both animals slaughtered for human consumption as well as emergency slaughtered and fallen animals was increased to 48 months on 1st January 2009.

In warmly welcoming this development, the Minister said that this higher age for testing will deliver very significant savings to farmers who currently have to pay for the testing of animals over 30 months. Minister Smith estimated that the number of cattle to be tested will fall by about 400,000 a year and will result in annual savings of more than €8m in testing costs.

Minister Smith said that the decision vindicated his efforts in pressing the EU Commissioner to increase the minimum age for testing, which he had taken up immediately on his appointment "because I believed that the requirement to test all cattle over 30 months was no longer justified in view of the significant reduction in BSE cases, the ages of confirmed cases and the strict controls we continue to apply to protect consumers. Accordingly, the new testing age is a complete vindication of the position I have advocated since my appointment, when I identified the increase in the minimum age for BSE testing as a priority."

In conclusion, the Minister complimented all concerned for their co-operation in implementing the various controls that had been in place and that have now led to the less demanding testing regime.

Date Released: 13 January 2009