America’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was confirmed late last month 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 was 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.

Clifford emphasized the safeguards in place to protect America’s food supply from BSE. “The United States has had long-standing 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 non-ambulatory (sometimes called ‘downer’) cattle from entering the human food chain. For animal health, the Food and Drug Administration ban on ruminant material in cattle feed prevents the spread of the disease in the cattle herd.”