Exports of U.S. beef to continue in spite of sole case of mad cow disease
California dairy cow found infected; will not effect markets
In spite of a California dairy cow being infected with the dreaded "Mad cow disease" - also know as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE -- major markets for U.S. beef from Canada to Japan stayed open to imports. The incident marked the first U.S. discovery of mad cow disease in six years after assurances that rigorous surveillance had safeguarded the food system.
The cow was found at a rendering plant, which processes diseased or sick animals into mainly non-edible products for use in products such as soap or glue.
U.S. authorities quickly told consumers and importers around the world there was no danger the meat would enter the food chain after the singularity discovered in California.
Mexico, Korea, Japan, Canada and the European Union said they would continue to import U.S. beef. While two major South Korean retailers have halted sales, chief U.S. Agricultural Trade Negotiator Isi Siddiqui said the response has been positive.
"We are pleased with the response of our trading partners" Siddiqui said. "This shows they have confidence in our surveillance system and also the actions we have taken since 2003, when the first U.S. case of the disease was discovered."
Samples from the infected cow have been sent to laboratories in Canada and Britain for final confirmation, Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE said in a statement. The case was considered unlikely to affect the current USDA "controlled risk" categorization for mad cow disease.
"According to USDA statements, the steps taken so far are consistent with OIE standards," it added.
Russia's health watchdog said it could consider restrictions on U.S. imports, but was waiting for more information on the outbreak and the planned U.S. response before taking a decision.
Three previous cases of mad cow disease were confirmed in the Unites States between 2003 and 2006. Memories were still sharp of the first case in 2003, which caused a $3 billion drop in U.S. exports.
Experts said the latest case was "atypical", meaning it was a rare occurrence in which a cow contracts the disease spontaneously, in lieu of the feed supply.
They said the dairy cow had not been eaten by other animals and there was no risk of the disease being spread and estimated the chance of an animal spontaneously contracting the disease at about one in a million.
However, the USDA is still tracing the life of the infected animal, and the carcass of the cow is under quarantine and will be destroyed. The cow was found at a rendering plant, which processes diseased or sick animals into mainly non-edible products for use in products such as soap or glue.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Mad cow disease, California, singularity, beef exports
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