While previous "mad cow" findings resulted in massive beef trade bans, there were no trade restrictions for dairy during the three previous BSE incidents in the U.S.
USDA’s April 24 announcement that a California cow had been detected with atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) shouldn't have any impact on U.S. dairy exports, Alan Levitt of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) said today.
"Milk and dairy products do not contain or transmit BSE," noted Alan Levitt, USDEC’s vice president of communications. "USDA and OIE [World Animal Health] recognize that milk is safe.
"While previous BSE findings resulted in massive beef trade bans (notably Japan and Korea), there were virtually no trade restrictions for dairy during the three previous incidents of BSE in the U.S.," Levitt added.
He pointed out that the 2005 and 2006 findings were beef cows, not dairy. The only previous finding in a dairy cow was in December 2003; that cow had been imported from Canada.
"Mexico did initially stop U.S. dairy exports in December 2003, but USDEC worked with government and industry officials to re-open the border within a few days," he said. "Trade then does not appear to have been interrupted."
U.S. dairy exports to Mexico rose 87% in December 2003 and increased 54% in January 2004, by value, vs. prior year. Overall U.S. dairy exports were up 7% in December 2003 and climbed 2% in January 2004, also by value, vs. prior year.
"Still, this current finding shouldn’t be minimized," Levitt said. "It’s important to re-affirm the science of BSE to major export customers and regulatory authorities, as we’ve done in the past."
The disease was detected after the animal’s carcass was tested during a routine random sampling at a Central California rendering plant.