The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs supports the use of systematic tools for the prioritisation of known and well defined animal diseases to facilitate long and medium term planning of surveillance and disease control activities. The recognition that emerging events were not covered by the existing disease-specific approaches led to the establishment of the Veterinary Risk Group (VRG), constituted of government officials, and supporting structures such as the Risk Management Cycle and the Emerging Threat Highlight Report (ETHiR), to facilitate the identification, reporting and assessment of emerging threats to UK's animal health. Since its inception in November 2009 to the end of February 2011, the VRG reviewed 111 threats and vulnerabilities (T&V) reported through ETHiR. In July 2010 a decision support system (DSS) based on multi-criteria-decision-analysis (MCDA) improved ETHiR to allow the systematic prioritisation of emerging T&V. The DSS allows the regular ranking of emerging T&V by calculating a set of measurement indices related to the actual impact, possible impact on public perception and level of available capabilities associated with every T&V. The systematic characterisation of the processes leading to the assessment of T&V by the VRG has led to a consistent, auditable and transparent approach to the identification and assessment of emerging risks. The regular use of MCDA to manage a portfolio of emerging risks represents a different and novel application of MCDA in a health related context.