Major export markets for U.S. beef from Canada to Japan stayed open on Wednesday after the United States reported its case of mad cow disease in six years amid assurances that rigorous surveillance had safeguarded the food system.
U.S. live cattle futures were higher on Wednesday, but only recovered about half of what they lost on Tuesday when the market posted its biggest drop in seven months.
U.S. authorities quickly told consumers and importers around the world there was no danger that meat from the infected California dairy cow would enter the food chain. The cow tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly called mad cow disease.
Mexico, Korea, Japan, Canada and the European Union said they would continue to import U.S. beef, although two major South Korean retailers halted sales.
In 2011, Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea combined took 65 percent, or 1.82 billion lbs, of U.S. beef exports.
"This finding will not affect trade between the U.S. and Canada," the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement on Wednesday. "Both countries have implemented science-based measures to protect animal and human health."
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the new case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) reported on Tuesday should have no bearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.
Japan already only allows imports of U.S. and Canadian beef from cattle aged 20 months or less.
USDA CONTACTING TRADING PARTNERS
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the positive response from trade partners was a sign of confidence in the preventative measures taken by the United States and that he was not concerned about potential a cut off in imports.
"I'm sending out a letter to 20 major trading partners today to reassure that the products they're buying are safe," Vilsack told Reuters Insider.
Benchmark June live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange were recovered about half of what they lost on Tuesday when the market fell the 3-cent daily trading limit.
Shares were little changed on Wednesday in leading U.S. beef producers Tyson Foods Inc and JBS-USA
Samples from the infected cow have been sent to laboratories in Canada and Britain for final confirmation, Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said in a statement, adding that the case was unlikely to affect the current USDA "controlled risk" categorization for mad cow disease.
"According to USDA statements, the steps taken so far are consistent with OIE standards," it added.