Industry reacts to BSE case

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Friday, April 27, 2012

After the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently confirmed the fourth US case of BSE in a dairy cow at a California-based rendering facility, the industry shows reaction as trade groups, scientists and educators work to quell concerns about the safety of the US beef and milk supply.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is confident that the US beef and dairy supply is safe.

Samples taken from the infected cow were tested at USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. The cow tested positive for atypical BSE, which is a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal eating infected feed.

James H. Hodges, executive vice president of the American Meat Institute (AMI) said that the US cattle herd is more than 90m head, and that more than 30m head are processed annually. The US has had only four confirmed cases of BSE since 2003, which translates into one of the lowest rates of BSE in any nation that has ever diagnosed a case, he added.

There are also signs that the case will not interrupt international trade in US beef. Canada and Japan have already said there are no plans for those countries to stop US beef imports.

Japan restricts US beef imports to cattle 20 months old or younger as it is thought that older animals are at higher risk of having the disease. Japan's agriculture ministry has proposed raising the age limit to 30 months, however the recent BSE case may cause the ministry to delay a decision on the proposal until the country's food safety agency has had an opportunity to examine the findings.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said that because both countries have implemented measures to protect animal and human health against BSE and because rules for market access are science-based, the new BSE case will not affect trade between the US and Canada.

Home Plus and Lotte Mart, two major South Korean retailers stopped selling US beef after news of the BSE-infected cow broke. Home Plus would eventually resume sales of US beef after the country's government announced it would increase inspections. Lotte Mart has maintained its ban.
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