The cow was identified at a rendering facility as part of routine testing for the brain-wasting disease, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, John Clifford, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief veterinarian, told reporters today at a briefing in Washington. Mad cow disease cannot be transmitted through milk from dairy animals, he said.
The carcass “was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health,” Clifford said in a statement. “USDA remains confident in the health of the national herd and the safety of beef and dairy products.”
This is the fourth BSE case found in the U.S. herd, and the first since March 2006. Clifford said the age and the source of the animal discovered today were being investigated.
Cattle futures tumbled the most in 11 months in Chicago, and feeder-cattle prices fell by the exchange limit. The world’s largest beef producer, Brazil’s JBS SA (JBSS3), fell by as much as 5.2 percent before closing 0.3 percent lower in Sao Paulo. Tyson Foods Inc., the second-biggest U.S. beef processor, pared earlier gains to close 1.5 percent higher in New York.
Fourth U.S. Case
Scientists say the disease is spread through feed that contains brain or spinal cord tissue from infected animals. Since 1997, feed made from mammals has been banned from cattle rations and high-risk materials such as brains have been kept from the human food supply. The latest BSE case was “atypical,” Clifford said, meaning that its disease form is very rare and not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.
California officials are holding the carcass at the rendering facility, the USDA said. The agency did not identify the plant or its location. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa said the cow was five years old and was in Tulare County, California.