A rare case of mad cow disease in the US is unlikely to have a significant impact on the processing sector, according to the American Meat Institute (AMI).
The comments come just days after the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed one case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – commonly known as ‘mad cow disease’ – in a dairy cow in California.
AMI executive vice president James Hodges told FoodProductionDaily.com that additional industry measures to ensure the safety of meat will not be required as a result of the case, which is only the fourth ever recorded in the US.
BSE, which is a progressive neurological disease among cattle, is always fatal. California state authorities are holding the diseased carcass at a rendering facility where it will be destroyed.
No significant impact
“We agree with USDA and industry analysts that this won’t have a significant impact on the industry. We have a safe beef supply and it continues to be that way,” said Hodges.
“It’s important to know that this case is typical and not the type of BSE that caused the UK outbreak. This type does not pose a public health issue.”
The cow, which was never presented for slaughter, tested positive for atypical BSE – a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.
“We don’t believe any additional measures are needed in the industry as a result of this case,” added Hodges.
“US beef products are among the safest in the world and USDA’s announcement today confirms that the US animal disease surveillance system works to protect our herds and the public.”
“Certainly, BSE news can generate concerns and questions, but the facts show that our animal disease prevention system is strong and our beef is safe, Consumers can continue to enjoy their beef with confidence,” he said.
The USDA plans to conduct an investigation in conjunction with California animal and public health officials and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The systems and safeguards in place to protect animal and human health worked as planned to identify this case quickly, and will ensure that it presents no risk to the food supply or to human health,” said US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack.
“USDA has no reason to believe that any other US animals are currently affected, but we will remain vigilant and committed to the safeguards in place,” added Vilsack.
Major export markets for US beef, including Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Canada and the European Union (EU), have promised to continue to import the product.
However, two South Korean retailers have stopped sales of US beef and Indonesia has temporarily suspended shipments.