Discovery of mad cow disease in U.S. shows country's detection system is effective, FAO and OIE say; samples sent to OIE labs for final confirmation, but South Korea already increasing quarantine inspections of U.S. beef
April 25, 2012
– The recent discovery of mad cow disease in the U.S. demonstrates the effectiveness of the country’s detection system, according to both the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), Bloomberg reported April 25.
In an emailed statement, the OIE wrote that the discovery should not affect the U.S.’ “controlled risk” status for atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Rather than being penalized via trade restrictions and bans, FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth said that the discovery combined with the transparency of the testing process should reassure the U.S.’ trading partners. Lubroth added that meat from the infected cow did not enter the food chain.
South Korea has indicated that it will strengthen its quarantine inspections for U.S. beef imports.
Rosselkhoznadzor, a Russian food-safety agency, spokesperson Alexei Alekseenko said that Russia is prepared to implement “adequate measures” in the wake of the discovery, and that any decisions to curb U.S. beef imports would have a scientific basis.
The OIE said that the U.S. has submitted samples to OIE reference laboratories for final confirmation, and that it is waiting for the U.S. to provide official notification regarding data on the case. It added that, based on statements from the USDA, the U.S. authorities’ response to the discovery thus far has been consistent with OIE standards.
On April 24, staff scientist Michael Hansen of Consumers Union said that, annually, approximately 40,000 cows—less than .1% of the domestic cattle herd—are tested, which is insufficient to ensure that diseased cows do not enter the food supply chain.
Lubroth said that existing testing standards in the U.S. are most likely sufficient. Although not every animal entering the food chain is tested, all cattle that are too weak to stand are tested.
The primary source of this article is Bloomberg, New York, New York, on April 25, 2012.