An “atypical” variety of the animal illness known as mad cow disease was found in an 11-year-old Alabama animal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday.
The case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was detected during routine surveillance at a livestock market, the USDA said Tuesday in a statement. The cow was kept from slaughter channels and “at no time” posed a risk to the food supply, the agency said.
The atypical variety differs from “classical” BSE linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people, according to the USDA. In the four previous findings of BSE in the U.S., one case in Washington state in December 2003 was classical, involving a cow brought in from Canada. That roiled global cattle markets and spurred several countries to ban U.S. beef. Earlier this year, China reopened access to U.S. beef imports for the first time since that notorious episode.
Colin Woodall, vice president for government affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Washington, said the USDA announcement probably won’t hurt trade with exports unaffected by previous findings of the atypical variety.
“We would not expect any restrictions by our trading partners, but it’s a situation we will watch carefully,” Joe Schuele, a spokesman for the Denver-based U.S. Meat Export Federation, said in a telephone interview. “USMEF would concur with the USDA’s conclusion that an atypical case will not impact the negligible risk status of the U.S. designated by the World Organization for Animal Health.”
South Korea’s agriculture ministry said it will strengthen quarantine measures on U.S. beef starting Wednesday. The country doesn’t import beef from slaughterhouses or meat processors based in Alabama, it said in a statement.