Updated May 2, 2012
On April 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced discovery of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in California. BSE (known informally as "mad cow disease") is a chronic, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle. The animal involved in the case, a dairy cow from Central California, was never presented for slaughter for human consumption but instead was sent to a rendering facility.
Farm Bureau perspective:
The food supply remains safe. We have a system in place to keep material that might transmit BSE out of the food supply and regulations that prohibit the use of such material. Milk does not transmit BSE and meat from this animal did not enter the food supply.
The detection of BSE shows that our food safety system works and that we know what to do when we find a case of this rare disease. We are very confident in the safety of California animals and the safety of dairy and beef products.
New development (May 2):
USDA said it has identified two calves born to the affected cow in the past two years. One calf was stillborn, and the other was located in another state and euthanized. Tests run on that cow came back negative for BSE. USDA said the dairy where the affected cow originated, and a second dairy associated with it, remain under quarantine.
Farm Bureau perspective: We appreciate the thoroughness of the ongoing investigation and continue to trust in the tracking and testing efforts by USDA and CDFA.
New development (April 26):
USDA said the animal found to have BSE was a dairy cow that was 10 years, 7 months old and came from a Tulare County dairy farm. The animal was humanely euthanized after developing lameness and was tested as part of targeted BSE surveillance at rendering facilities.
Farm Bureau perspective: We’re confident in the actions taken by federal animal-health authorities.
New developments (April 25):
Mexico, Korea, Japan, Canada and the European Union said they would continue to import U.S. beef, although two major South Korean retailers halted sales, and chief U.S. Agricultural Trade Negotiator Isi Siddiqui said so far the response was positive.
Farm Bureau perspective: The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health both say the United States has taken the appropriate steps in responding to the BSE discovery. Consumers around the world should have confidence in the safety of beef from California and the U.S.
What they're saying:
California Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross: "The detection of BSE shows that the surveillance program in place in California and around the country is working. Milk and beef remain safe to consume."
U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer: "According to USDA, BSE cannot be transmitted to humans through milk consumption. In addition, the department has strong safeguards in place to prevent diseased animals from entering the food supply. We believe the system is working as it is supposed to work …"
American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman: "American beef and dairy products are safe. The safeguards our government has in place to detect any incidence of this disease are clearly working."