Mad Cow Update: US beef producers reassure consumers following BSE detection

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd May 2012

Despite the confirmation of an isolated case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as ‘Mad Cows Disease’, in a dairy cow in California’s Central Valley last week, US beef producers are standing firm on US beef being amongst the safest in the world.

The US Department of Agriculture said the cow was detected at a rendering facility and that it was never presented for slaughter for human consumption so it never presented a risk to human health or food supply.

The United States is classified by the World Animal Health Organisation as a ‘controlled BSE risk’ country.

This means that the country has effective measures in place to protect animal health and public health in relation to BSE.

The United States’ Department of Agriculture said, “It is important to reiterate that this animal at no time presented any risk to human health.

“USDA is continuing its epidemiological investigation and will provide additional information as it is available.”

DAFF reassures Australian consumers following US detection

Following the US detection, Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was quick to reassure Australian consumers that Australian beef will not be impacted.

Australia does not currently import  beef  or beef products for human consumption from cattle of United States origin.

A statement released by DAFF stated: “Australia has strict biosecurity conditions in place that minimise the risk of such harmful diseases entering the country and before any nation can export beef to Australia it must undergo a rigorous import risk assessment and food safety assessment.

“DAFF Biosecurity will work with trading partners and continue to monitor the situation in the US.”

Active surveillance for BSE commenced in Australia in 1990 and was modified in 1998 with the development of the National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Surveillance Program (NTSESP).

The primary purpose of the program is to support trade by maintaining a surveillance system for BSE, verifying that Australia’s BSE risk reduction measures are effective.

Reaction in Asia

South Korea continues to import U.S beef following the outbreak but is under increasing pressure to act. This week a South Korean delegation met with the American Agriculture Department’s chief veterinarian, John Clifford to determine the preventative measures being taken against the disease.

Indonesia continues its ban on imported U.S beef. This has created an opening for Australian beef producers. The ban imposed by the Indonesian Government has no time-frame attached but applies to beef imported to the country after 24 April 2012.

Japan is currently continuing its importation of U.S beef despite the reported outbreak.