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Minister Coveney welcomes increase in BSE Testing Age for Beef Exports to Tunisia

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today welcomed a decision by the Tunisian authorities to amend their BSE testing requirements for Irish beef so that they are consistent with those that apply within the EU. For cattle whose beef is destined for Tunisia, this means an increase in the minimum age of testing from 48 months to 72 months.

The Minister pointed out that Tunisia was the third country to amend its testing requirements for Ireland/EU recently, the Russian Federation/Customs Union and South Africa having done so in July and August respectively. He added that "these decisions by Tunisia, Russia and South Africa not only remove a significant technical barrier but should help to reduce exporters' costs. They are also indicative of the trust that these countries have in our controls, which are world class."

The Minister added that "while the vast bulk of our beef is exported to the EU, non EU markets offer an important alternative outlet to our exporters, along with the real potential for expansion. I am firmly of the view that it is vital that Irish companies have access to as many markets worldwide as possible and my Department and I will continue to work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Bord Bia to this end."

The Minister concluded by acknowledging that there were still a number of other third countries applying BSE testing regimes which were more stringent than those of the EU and gave an assurance that he and his officials would also continue to urge these countries to increase the age of testing to 72 months.

Date Released: 13 September 2011