Brazil exports to China will resume after BSE discovery
Two beef animals in two different states in Brazil were found to be infected with BSE, according to Brazil’s ministry of agriculture. The announcement was made Sept. 4, 2021.
It is not clear how the disease was discovered, but several news reports say that the Brazil ministry of agriculture stated the disease was atypical meaning it did not occur from the feeding of animal byproducts.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) won’t make any change to Brazil’s status as a “negligible risk” country for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).
The two different infected beef animals were “aged” and were located in Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso at the time the disease was detected.
The U.S. is also considered a “negligible risk” country according to World Organization for Animal Health or OIE.
The Ministry of Agriculture collected animal samples and sent them to an OIE laboratory in Canada for more detailed analysis. The animal with BSE in Minas Gerais was more than 10 years old. At the slaughterhouse operating in the region, Federal Inspection Service reported suspicions about the animal, according to Food Safety News.
While Brazil temporarily halted exports to China, the country already has plans in place to resume trade with China, which gets about 40 percent of its beef from Brazil.
According to USDA, Brazil, with a cattle herd of about 232 million head, is the world’s largest exporter.
China imports about seven percent of its beef from the US.
The United States reopened its borders to fresh Brazilian beef in February 2020. The U.S. was among the top four Brazilian beef importing nations last year, purchasing almost 60,000 metric tons.
According to the ministry, which officially notified the OIE, Brazil has never recorded and reported “a classic case of BSE.” The ministry said these are the fourth and fifth BSE case detected in over 23 years of health vigilance for the illness. The last case was discovered in a 17-year-old cow in Mato Grasso, according to the ministry. Exports to China were temporarily halted at that time.
“I think we should shut down all imports of beef from Brazil until we study the cause and confirm that it is ‘atypical,’” said Walter Schweitzer, President of Montana Farmers Union, in a Northern Ag Network story. “Now we have had three separate cows from the same region of Brazil test positive to mad cow. Brazil would like us to think it is spontaneous, but I am not so sure. American consumers are at risk, and because we do not have MCOOL, there is no way for the consumer to know if they are eating a Brazilian hamburger and if it is free of mad cow.”
NCBA’s CEO, Colin Woodall, shared the following statement:
“Given Brazil’s history of failing to report BSE cases in a timely manner, we must remain vigilant in enforcing our safeguards and holding them accountable. The U.S. has the highest animal health and food safety standards in the world. We must make sure that all countries wishing to export beef to the U.S. continue to meet our standards—even a country with a small footprint like Brazil. We have full faith and confidence in the abilities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to enforce our safety standards and trade rules to protect America’s cattle producers and consumers.
“NCBA encourages USDA to examine Brazil and to continue implementing science-based safeguards that ensure all imported beef meets the same rigorous science-based food safety and animal health standards as American beef.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented regulations in 1997 that prohibit the feeding of most mammalian proteins to ruminants, including cattle. This feed ban is the most important measure to prevent the transmission of disease to cattle, says FDA.
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