A dairy cow in California has tested positive with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since 2006, it is the sole incident of mad cow disease found in California and fourth in US.
Mad cow disease in cows poses a great danger for humans too as eating contaminated meats can develop a sickness in humans known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) that affects one’s mental health and decreases movement ability. Though any confirmed case of this disease has not been yet detected in US, a colossal epidemic caused by it cost the lives of 18,000 cattle and more than 150 humans in UK in 1993.
Mad cow disease found in California
Health officials are trying their best to assure the public that the disease has no chance to spread among humans, as cow is not bound for the nation’s food supply. “Both human health and animal health are protected,” stated John Clifford, USDA’s veterinary chief. The USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack also confirmed the complete safety of the American food supply chain and health of people.
The infected cow was found as a part of the testing program administered by USDA every year for BSE. However, it was sheer luck to find the cow in question because the testing program is generally exercised on a small portion of dead animals.
The USDA chief assured that it would not bring any adverse effect on the country’s beef exports. The same statement was echoed by two other countries, namely, UK and Canada. Canada said that this discovery would not affect the food trade between the two countries and UK also confirmed no extra precaution or bans on beef due to this incident.
However, the same has not happened in case of South Korea. Two of the nation’s big retailers, Home Plus and Lotte Mart, have announced boycott of American beef. They confirmed that the issue was not the quality but the customers’ concern had compelled them to take the decision. South Korea had exercised an immediate ban on sale of US beef in 2003 after the finding of the opening case of mad cow disease. The country resumed the selling only in 2008. South Korea is the fourth biggest importer of US beef purchased 107,000 tons of meat in 2011. So, the ban is definitely a blow for the food business in US.
However, Japan has decided to follow Canada and UK, confirmed by a report in the Wall Street Journal, which is a great relief for the US beef suppliers.
Meanwhile, the US officials are trying their best to let people know that it is only an isolated case and the threat of danger has been removed successfully. In addition, the USDA officials have decided to share the relevant data with Canada and Europe to restore the full confidence of the outside world.