BSE found in central California, USDA confirms

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America’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was confirmed today in a press briefing by the USDA. John Clifford, USDA’s chief veterinarian, said a dairy cow expressing an "atypical" case of BSE was found at a rendering facility in central California and the carcass is being held under State authority and will be destroyed.

Clifford said the animal was never presented for slaughter for human consumption and was never a risk to enter the food supply for human consumption. Additionally, it was noted, milk does not transmit BSE. This is the fourth case of BSE found in the United States since December 2003.

Cattle futures markets locked limit down shortly before trading ended Tuesday as rumors of the BSE case circulated through the trading floor.

Clifford emphasized the safeguards in place to protect America’s food supply from BSE. "The United States has had longstanding interlocking safeguards to protect human and animal health against BSE. For public health, these measures include the USDA ban on specified risk materials, or SRMs, from the food supply. SRMs are parts of the animal that are most likely to contain the BSE agent if it is present in an animal. USDA also bans all nonambulatory (sometimes called "downer") cattle from entering the human food chain. For animal health, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on ruminant material in cattle feed prevents the spread of the disease in the cattle herd.

Clifford said the U.S. will share laboratory results with international animal health reference laboratories in Canada and England, which have official World Animal Health (OIE) reference labs. “These labs have extensive experience diagnosing atypical BSE and will review our confirmation of this form of the disease. In addition, we will be conducting a comprehensive epidemiological investigation in conjunction with California animal and public health officials and the FDA.”

Clifford also emphasized this new BSE case “in no way affects the United States' BSE status as determined by the OIE. The United States has in place all of the elements of a system that OIE has determined ensures that beef and beef products are safe for human consumption: a mammalian feed ban, removal of specified risk materials, and vigorous surveillance. Consequently, this detection should not affect U.S. trade.

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Sierra Angell    
Missouri  |  April, 24, 2012 at 03:10 PM

Glad to see that current regulations kept this meat out of the food supply. As a consumer and a beef producer this makes me feel confident in our food supply.

Robin H.    
Alaska  |  April, 24, 2012 at 10:58 PM

Hmmmm, I wonder what they do with old dairy cows? My hunch is they become burger.

Tommy Bomar    
pleasanton,tx  |  April, 24, 2012 at 08:56 PM

The US has and will always have safe beef for the world.

John Kincaid IV    
Oklahoma  |  April, 24, 2012 at 09:09 PM

Absolutely outstanding work getting this problem taken care of before it entered the food chain and presented a problem that would have been hard to overcome. I will continue to eat beef and a lot of it!!!

Mad about Mad Cow    
April, 24, 2012 at 09:38 PM

Last time I checked, approximately 1% of all cows in the US are tested for BSE. So if this case is the 4th case of BSE found in the US, it makes me wonder what happened to the other 396 cows. There are other countries where every single cow is tested. But for reasons beyond my comprehension, we are not allowed to buy beef from those countries, not even to import products containing trace amounts of beef.

California  |  April, 24, 2012 at 10:42 PM

I, for one, do not trust what the meda/government is telling the public about this incident. I hope it is true and that the infected animal was quarantined before it could infect any beef destined for human consumption. I do find it interesting that the article specifically states that it was never a risk to have entered the beef supply for "human consumption", does this mean it could have possibly been destined for animal consumption?

NY  |  April, 25, 2012 at 01:43 PM

The question regarding what percent of cattle are tested for BSE - Since 1990, USDA has conducted a science-based surveillance program to detect BSE in the United States. In the U.S. BSE surveillance program, animals targeted for BSE testing include those exhibiting signs of central nervous system disorders, non-ambulatory animals (those that can not walk) and other animals exhibiting symptoms consistent with BSE that die on-farm. The program also focuses on cattle older than 30 months of age. Since tests can only detect abnormal prion protein a few months prior to clinical disease, testing younger animals has limited or no value. USDA maintains an ongoing BSE surveillance program and currently tests approximately 40,000 high-risk cattle annually, a number that greatly exceeds the World Organization for Animal Health’s (OIE) recommended testing levels. The ongoing BSE surveillance program is designed to detect BSE at a prevalence level of one case per 1 million adult cattle. The USDA does a great job keeping our food supply safe!

Dr. William Rannells    
Ohio  |  April, 25, 2012 at 03:21 PM

The system is working and working well. It is not only a USDA program but a program of all industry associated with Food Production that is keeping the food supply acceptable for the consuming public. USDA is only a small part of that process. All large animal practitioners are front line in the process. Feed manufacturers and livestock feedlots provide input to the safety. The individual health agencies share responsibilities as well as the individual processing operations. The USDA only provides the regulatory authority and inspection service which is a small but necessary part of the process. Overall the food supply chain has many integral parts that together serve to keep the products safe for the global economy. Give credit to all the parts of the system.

Austin, TX  |  April, 25, 2012 at 03:37 PM

Wow, with those headlines, I thought they were referring to Pelosi.

Birmingham, Alabama  |  April, 26, 2012 at 08:21 AM

Is Rachael Maddow out there ?


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