25 April 2012 --- U.S. authorities reported the country's first case of mad cow disease in six years on Tuesday.
Assurances were given to consumers and global importers that there was no danger of meat from the California dairy cow entering the food chain.
CSPI Food Safety Attorney Sarah Klein issued a statement saying that: “A case of a single cow with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy is not a reason for significant concern on the part of consumers, and there is no reason to believe the beef or milk supply is unsafe.
“If the cow were exposed to the typical strain of BSE via animal feed and the government says that’s not the case here that would have represented a significant failure. The government’s ability to track down other cattle that may have been exposed via feed would have been hampered without an effective animal I.D. program.
“The United States has first-world resources and technology but a third-world animal identification system. In fact, some third-world countries do a better job of tracking livestock than America does. Botswana, for one, uses RFID microchips to track its animals up and down the supply chain. If American cattlemen suffer economic losses at the news of this discovery of BSE, they should blame only themselves and other opponents of a mandatory animal identification system.
Mexico, Korea and Japan, three of the top markets for overseas U.S. beef sales, will continue imports, although two major South Korean retailers halted sales of U.S. beef.
Experts said the case was "atypical" - meaning it was a rare occurrence in which a cow contracts the disease spontaneously, rather than through the feed supply.
The risk of transmission generally comes when the brain or spinal tissue of an animal with BSE, or mad cow disease, is consumed by humans or another animal, which did not occur in this case.
First discovered in Britain in 1986, the disease has killed more than 150 people and 184,000 cows globally, mainly in Britain and Europe, but strict controls have tempered its spread.