The case was confirmed by the US department of agriculture (USDA) late on Monday 23 April, and is currently being investigated, though according to USDA chief veterinary officer John Clifford, it is not related to consumption of animal feed.
USMEF said this case would not affect the country’s ‘controlled risk’ BSE classification through the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), or international access for US beef products.
“The most important message is that US beef is safe,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “We are already reaching out to our trade contacts around the world to reassure them that this finding is an indication that the system to safeguard the wholesomeness and safety of US beef is working. The US government is providing this same information through its channels to all of our trading partners.”
The US implemented a safeguard system after a BSE outbreak in 2003 that had tremendous consequences on its beef industry and international trade. Measures include the removal of all specified risk materials (SRMs) during processing, USDA’s ban on any use of SRMs in both human or animal food, and constant monitoring of livestock to ensure that no higher-risk animals are processed for consumption.
BSE is generally caused by the consumption of cattle remains by cattle, and includes symptoms such as an inability to stand and increased aggressiveness. Humans who eat beef contaminated with brain, spinal cord or digestive system tissues from an infected animal are at risk of contracting Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, which affects nervous tissues and can be fatal.
According to USMEF, global BSE cases peaked at 37,311 in 1992, but steps taken by countries around the world have dramatically reduced new cases to a minimum. “Of the four cases identified over the years in the United States, one animal was traced back to Canada. The other two earlier cases were both classified as atypical,” the organisation added.