On Thursday 24 March, the French Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that a five-year-old Salers breed of cow “died prematurely” as a result of BSE, a neurodegenerative condition commonly known as mad cow disease.
The case, which the government had said was an isolated incident, was suspected to have hit a farm in the Ardennes region of France on Thursday 17 March. A laboratory test has now confirmed that it was BSE and France has since notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the European Commission of the outbreak.
The French Ministry of Agriculture has said the single case of BSE will not put consumers at risk.
A meeting with members from the National Advisory Board of Animal and Plant Health Policy (CNOPSAV) is scheduled to take place on Friday 25 March. Here, health officials will discuss the safety measures French needs to implement in order to safeguard further livestock from catching BSE.
French agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll is also expected to speak to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) to determine how the case was able to penetrate the French farm.
According to the OIE, France has a “negligible BSE risk”, which is the safest level awarded by the animal health body. This recognition is crucial when it comes to negotiating cattle trade with other countries, as some markets outside Europe may choose not to trade with France if its level were any lower.
The OIE has not said whether it will raise France’s level of BSE risk.