USDA: Global beef supply safe from mad cow disease
Staff Writer |
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said a recent case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) detected in an Alabama cow poses no risk to the food supply or human health in the United States or abroad.
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The 11-year-old cow never entered the slaughterhouse, and since it’s of the “atypical” variety, it is not contagious to other cattle or to those who consume the beef.
It’s also the type of BSE that will generally show itself in cattle of eight years and older.
So-called “classical” BSE is the form that occurred primarily in the United Kingdom beginning in the late 1980s, and it has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people.
The primary source of infection for classical BSE is feed contaminated with the infectious prion agent, such as meat-and-bone meal containing protein derived from rendered infected cattle.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1997 banned the practice of including mammalian protein in cattle feed.
However, a case of classical BSE manifested in a Washington state cow imported from Canada in late December 2003, resulting in the shutdown of U.S. beef exports worldwide. Since then, it has taken the USDA years to reopen overseas markets to U.S. beef. This spring, China began allowing U.S. beef shipments back into its market.
There have been four other cases of “atypical” BSE detected in the United States since 2003.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has recognized the United States as "negligible risk" for BSE, and this latest atypical case is not expected to lead to any trade impacts on U.S. beef. ■
International measures on illegal deforestation are beginning to put pressure on Brazil, where banks have agreed to deny credit to meat packers that purchase cattle from such areas, according to the Brazilian Federation of Banks (Febraban).