At a meeting on 27 May 2008, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has assessed BSE risk to be negligible in Finland. The decision is based on documentation submitted by Finnish veterinary authorities concerning BSE surveillance and prevention action taken in Finland. The international group of experts assessed the risk of the occurrence of the disease in Finland on the basis of this documentation. The decision of the group was unanimous.
Other countries declared to have a negligible risk of BSE include Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Paraguay. Last year Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Uruguay achieved the same status. This means that the total number of countries with a negligible risk of BSE is only 20. With the exception of Bulgaria and Romania, other EU member states were ranked to the higher category of controlled risk based on an international standard. The United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Switzerland are also in that category. Bulgaria and Romania as well as the other OIE countries still need to provide more information about action taken in them. Until they do, they are assigned to the category of undetermined BSE risk.
The lower the assessed BSE risk, the less restrictions are imposed in global trade on live cattle or products of bovine origin. As far as Finland in concerned, the negligible BSE risk category is of significance particularly in terms of export to outside EU. The EC legislation, on the other hand, still treats all the member countries equally regardless of their OIE category. Only one case of BSE has been found in Finland in 2001. The total number of BSE tests carried out every year is ca. 120 000.
The World Organisation for Animal Health, OIE, consists of 172 member countries. The objective of the organisation is to promote the prevention and eradication of animal diseases everywhere in the world. As a standardisation body recognised by WTO, OIE is responsible for approving for purposes of international trade regulations concerning action related to contagious animal diseases. The member countries decide on these standards in the annual meeting at the Paris headquarters of the organisation at the end of May.
For more information, please contact:
Riitta Heinonen, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 (0) 50 367 1040
Jaana Husu-Kallio, Director General, Evira, tel. +358 (0) 400 291 910
Taina Aaltonen, Director, Evira, tel. +358 (0) 40 775 0219