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USDA Confirms Fourth Case of BSE, But Says Animal Posed No Risk To Food Supply

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

(American Meat Institute)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today confirmed the nation's fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a California dairy cow. The animal was never presented for slaughter, and at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health, USDA said.

"Evidence shows that our systems and safeguards to prevent BSE are working, as are similar actions taken by countries around the world,” said USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford in a statement released today. “In 2011, there were only 29 worldwide cases of BSE, a dramatic decline and 99 percent reduction since the peak in 1992 of 37,311 cases. This is directly attributable to the impact and effectiveness of feed bans as a primary control measure for the disease.”

Said AMI’s Executive Vice President James H. Hodges: “U.S. beef products are among the safest in the world and USDA’s announcement today confirms that the U.S. animal disease surveillance system works to protect our herds and the public. … Certainly, BSE news can generate concerns and questions, but the facts show that our animal disease prevention system is strong and our beef is safe. Consumers can continue to enjoy their beef with confidence.”

Samples from the animal in question were tested at USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. Confirmatory results using immunohistochemistry and western blot tests confirmed the animal was positive for atypical BSE, a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.

USDA is sharing its 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 USDA’s confirmation of this form of the disease. In addition, USDA will conduct a comprehensive epidemiological investigation in conjunction with California animal and public health officials and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"This detection in no way affects the United States' BSE status as determined by the OIE,”  said Clifford. “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.”

For more information about BSE, visit http://www.meatsafety.org/.

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