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USDA Detection of Atypical BSE Case in Alabama Cow Affirms that U.S. Surveillance System, Interlocking Safeguards Are Working

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Attribute Statement to North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter

 Washington, DC -- “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) prompt detection of a case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an Alabama cow before it was sent to a plant for processing should reassure consumers that that the U.S. animal health surveillance system and interlocking safeguards are working and that beef remains safe.

 USDA officials stressed that this latest case is atypical BSE that occurs spontaneously and rarely.  Four atypical cases have been detected in the U.S. since 2005.  Atypical BSE is not contagious and is not transmitted to cattle through contaminated feed as ‘classical BSE’ was in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s and 1990s.    Only one case of classical BSE has been detected in the U.S. in a Canadian cow.

The U.S. surveillance system for sampling and testing cattle far exceeds recommended international standards.  Thanks to our ‘gold standard’ system, officials detected the disease in the cow early.  The U.S. also requires that any tissues that could pose a risk if an animal did have BSE like the brain in an older beef animal are not permitted in the food supply.   The World Organization for Animal Health has deemed the U.S. to have ‘negligible risk’ for BSE and today’s announcement should not affect the United States’ status.

Consumers should continue to enjoy beef knowing that the U.S. has firewalls in place to ensure that beef remains both delicious and safe.”             


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