BSE detected in California dairy cow; never entered food supply

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Tuesday that a dairy cow in Central California has tested positive for an atypical strain of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health. For more information on BSE and what is being done to keep the country’s beef supply safe, go to bseinfo.org. Statements: USDA | NCBA

Statement by USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford Regarding a Detection of BSE in the US

Assures Consumers That Existing Safeguards Protected Food Supply; Reiterates Safety of Consuming Beef Products

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford today released the following statement on the detection of BSE in the U.S.

“As part of our targeted surveillance system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the nation’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a dairy cow from central California.

“The carcass of the animal is being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed. It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health.

“Additionally, milk does not transmit 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.

“Evidence shows that our systems and safeguards to prevent BSE are working, as are similar actions taken by countries around the world. 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.

“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.

“We are sharing our 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.

“BSE is a progressive neurological disease among cattle that is always fatal. It belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Affected animals may display nervousness or aggression, abnormal posture, difficulty in coordination and rising, decreased milk production, or loss of body weight despite continued appetite.

“This detection 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.

“USDA remains confident in the health of the national herd and the safety of beef and dairy products. As the epidemiological investigation progresses, USDA will continue to communicate findings in a timely and transparent manner.

NCBA Statement on USDA Announcement Regarding Positive BSE Test Result

Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Cattle Health and Well-being Committee Chairman Tom Talbot issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) confirmation of an atypical case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow in central California.

“USDA confirmed this afternoon a positive test result as part of its targeted surveillance program to test cattle for BSE. USDA has confirmed this dairy animal was discovered at a rendering facility and was never presented for human consumption and poses zero risk to human health. The bottom line remains the same – all U.S. beef is safe.

“America’s cattle producers’ top priority is raising healthy cattle. As such, the U.S. beef community has collaborated with and worked with animal health experts and government to put in place multiple interlocking safeguards over the past two decades to prevent BSE from taking hold in the United States. This effort was recognized in May 2007 when the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the leading international body for animal health, formally classified the United States as a controlled risk country for BSE. The controlled risk classification recognizes that U.S. regulatory controls are effective and that U.S fresh beef and beef products from cattle of all ages are safe and can be safely traded due to our interlocking safeguards.

“USDA’s ongoing BSE surveillance program tests approximately 40,000 high-risk cattle annually, bringing the total of tested animals to more than 1 million since the program began. BSE is fast approaching eradication worldwide. According to USDA, there were only 29 cases of BSE worldwide in 2011, which is a 99 percent reduction since the peak in 1992 of more than 37,300 cases.

“We commend USDA and animal health experts for effectively identifying and eliminating the potential risks associated with BSE.”

For more information on BSE and what is being done to keep the country’s beef supply safe, go to bseinfo.org.

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