BSE Situation Update

April 27, 2012 01:15 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

More U.S. details | Korea situation | Taiwan

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Following are the latest developments in the situation with the U.S. confirming its fourth case of BSE:

USDA investigation:  "The animal in question was 10 years and 7 months old and came from a dairy farm in Tulare County, California," USDA said in an update issued late Thursday. "The animal was humanely euthanized after it developed lameness and became recumbent. The animal’s carcass will be destroyed."

USDA has continued to stress that the animal in question was not presented for slaughter for human consumption, did not enter food supply channels and posed not risk to human health. The positive animal was tested as part of targeted BSE surveillance at rendering facilities. Samples were sent to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory for testing and forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) on April 20th for confirmatory testing. APHIS announced the confirmed positive finding April 24th.

FDA response: "The FDA is confident in the effectiveness of the existing animal feed safeguards designed to prevent the spread of BSE through feed," the agency said in a statement. "Although current science suggests that atypical cases of BSE, such as this one, are unlikely to be transmitted through animal feed, the FDA will work with the USDA to complete a thorough epidemiological investigation."

Pressure continues on South Korea government: The head of South Korea’s ruling party and potential presidential candidate Park Geun-hye called for South Korea to halt all quarantine inspections of U.S. beef until the product is assured to be safe. "I think the government should halt quarantine inspections until we get definite information convincing enough to the people through epidemiological investigation, and should suspend imports altogether if a final analysis shows there is even a slight problem with safety," Park said according to a report by Yonhap News. "I don't know how long it will be (before an investigation into the latest mad cow case is completed), but wouldn't people be worried during that period? Therefore, it would be desirable to first halt quarantine inspections."

The South Korean government said it would now inspect 50 percent of U.S. beef shipments, up from the original level of 3 percent and from the 30 percent level that was put in place following the U.S. case being discovered. Agriculture Minister Suh Kyu-yong said that the nation would not halt the imports or quarantine inspections of U.S. beef. "After checking the answers of Washington, we concluded that we do not have to put an end to quarantines," Suh said.

South Korea sending investigators to U.S.: A team of investigators from South Korea will depart for the U.S. as soon as Sunday to conduct its own check on the U.S. situation, including a hoped-for visits to the farm where the cow came from, the rendering plant where the testing confirmed the disease and the lab that conducted the tests.

"In order to relieve citizen’s concerns we plan to dispatch our experts to the U.S. this Sunday at the earliest. We are currently in talks with the U.S. government," a South Korean Ag Ministry official said according to the Korea Times.  "The U.S. seems to be reluctant to open the California farm and the lab since they are continuing research on their own. We will keep negotiating with them."

The official also said the has responded to South Korean questions on the case, including that the animal in question was 10 years and seven months old and the form of the disease was the "less risky atypical BSE," the official said.

Taiwan legislature won’t take up U.S. beef trade today: Taiwan’s legislature narrowly defeated a measure to place the import of U.S. beef on the agenda for the body today. Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng cast the tie-breaking vote to not bring the matter up on the agenda after the rest of the legislature deadlocked in a 44-44 vote. The Democratic Progressive Party, Taiwan Solidarity Union and People First Party had put the motion up for a vote. Lawmakers cited a Taiwan National health Research Institute study saying Taiwanese have a greater risk of contracting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and that since Indonesia had some U.S. beef products, Taiwan should also consider it.

Products in Indonesia ban: Indonesia banned imports of some U.S. beef products this week, including bone-in beef (which press reports have quoted officials as labeling boned beef), gelatin, bone meal and innards. The amount of meat and bone meal the U.S. shipped to Indonesia in 2011 was 136,120 tonnes, up from 111,570 tonnes in 2010, according to Foreign Ag Service data. Shipments in Jan. 2012 were 7,309 tonnes. The shipment figures are for Inedible Meat and Bone Meal Tankage, most of which is meat and bone meal.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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