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BSE negligible-risk cattle checker

A new automated checking system to recognise the eligibility of Scottish cattle as having a minimal risk of BSE has been introduced.

The new system comes just months after Scotland achieved the lowest possible risk status level – negligible – for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), in July 2017.

Commissioned by the Scottish Government and developed by ScotEID in partnership with industry and Food Standards Scotland, the checker uses data from the Cattle Tracing System to show the BSE status of every animal checked. This is a significantly more efficient system than the manual checks currently in use and will provide considerable new opportunities for the sector.

Announcing the news, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The early implementation of this automatic checking system is more great news for our meat sector and ensures Scotland’s excellent animal health status remains high on the agenda.

“Thanks to our successful partnership with industry, the new system is ready for operational use just months after we achieved the lowest possible status for BSE – negligible risk.

“The new system – which has been developed following years of hard work from the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, producers, our red meat businesses, vets, and this government – is significantly more efficient than the manual checks currently in use and stands us in good stead to further increase Scotch Beef exports.”

Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers Executive Manager, Ian Anderson said: “We warmly welcome this important development. The new checker is a fast, efficient and robust system which modernises the traditional methods of checking cattle ID and movement records. It will allow our members to provide their customers with a reliable data source, contributing further to the world class image and provenance of Scotch beef.

“We also appreciate the efficiency with which the new system has been developed and tested, following Scotland’s success in gaining the lowest possible risk status for BSE in July this year. It is important for Scotland’s meat industry that we maintain maximum momentum in exercising the trading advantages we have over countries which currently don’t share our negligible risk status and the new checker will help us do that.”