“Strict controls in place to protect consumers from the risk of BSE” – Food Standards Scotland

The Animal Health Agency (APHA) is investigating the source of an outbreak of BSE(Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy)  on a farm in Aberdeenshire.  Scotland has been free of BSE for ten years and strict standards are imposed on Scottish cattle.

Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary in the Scottish Government said:

Fergus Ewing“Following confirmation of a case of classical BSE in Aberdeenshire, I have activated the Scottish Government’s response plan to protect our valuable farming industry, including establishing a precautionary movement ban being placed on the farm.

“While it is important to stress that this is standard procedure until we have a clear understanding of the diseases origin, this is further proof that our surveillance system for detecting this type of disease is working. Be assured that the Scottish Government and its partners stand ready to respond to any further confirmed cases of the disease in Scotland.”

BSE,  is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy and fatal neurodegenerative disease in cattle that may be passed to humans who have eaten infected flesh. It causes a spongiform degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. You can find out more here:BSE Factsheet

In contrast to the farming industry in Scotland which has been free of BSE for ten years for the rest of  the UK there have been several cases over the same period although the trend has been down:

  • 2008: 37
  • 2009:12
  • 2010:11
  • 2011:7
  • 2012:3
  • 2013:3
  • 2014:1
  • 2015:2
  • 2016:0

This case in Aberdeenshire involved the death of one animal.

Food Standards Scotland have confirmed there is no risk to human health as a result of this isolated case.

Ian McWatt, Director of Operations in Food Standards Scotland said:

“There are strict controls in place to protect consumers from the risk of BSE, including controls on animal feed, and removal of the parts of cattle most likely to carry BSE infectivity.

“Consumers can be reassured that these important protection measures remain in place and that Food Standards Scotland Official Veterinarians and Meat Hygiene Inspectors working in all abattoirs in Scotland will continue to ensure that in respect of BSE controls, the safety of consumers remains a priority. We will continue to work closely with Scottish Government, other agencies and industry at this time.”

Sheila Voas, Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer  said:

“While it is too early to tell where the disease came from in this case, its detection is proof that our surveillance system is doing its job. We are working closely with the Animal and Plant Health Agency to answer this question, and in the meantime, I would urge any farmer who has concerns to immediately seek veterinary advice.


Photo by Kenny Armet

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