Japan's Detects 34th Mad Cow

US - Japan recently announced its 34th case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, in a 15-year-old beef cow – the oldest case of all the BSE cases in Japan.
calendar icon 10 January 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Because Japan tests every head of cattle for BSE before allowing the beef into the human food chain, none of the products from this animal will harm anyone.

However, because BSE has an incubation period of up to eight years, it will be many, many years before Japan completely removes the disease from its cattle herd, according to the US cattlemen's pressure group R-CALF.

While Japan is doing a much better job testing for BSE than Canada, R-CALF USA said it remains extremely concerned that policies implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allow more high-risk Canadian cattle into the United States are putting the U.S. cattle herd and U.S. beef consumers at risk.


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"Japan has instituted some of the most stringent mitigation measures of any country – they test every animal that enters the human food chain"
R-CALF USA CEO President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who chairs the group’s animal health committee.

“Japan has instituted some of the most stringent mitigation measures of any country – they test every animal that enters the human food chain, they remove the high-risk tissues from animals of all ages and they have a very stringent feed ban, so they have taken some reasonable steps to contain and eradicate this disease,” said R-CALF USA CEO President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who chairs the group’s animal health committee.

“Countries like Japan that started out only detecting a few cases in the first few years continue to find even more cases now that those countries are testing more cattle for BSE,” he said. “When applying that knowledge to Canada, we find Canada is following the same track – only detecting a few from the outset, but then the numbers begin to increase.

“However, Canada is not testing near the numbers of cattle that Japan is, and Canada only has a voluntary testing program, which means there’s likely numerous cattle in Canada that are going undetected for BSE, and that puts the U.S. cattle industry at risk because currently we are commingling Canadian cattle and beef with U.S. cattle and beef,” Mr Thornsberry pointed out. “It’s also critically important for the public to be able to sort through the spin that USDA and Canada use to try to diminish Canada’s BSE problem,” he continued.

“They claim that Canada’s most recent case, announced on 18 December, was only Canada’s 11th case of BSE, but the facts actually say otherwise. It was Canada’s 13th case total, the 12th incident in cattle born in Canada. “In 1993, one case was imported from Great Britain, and USDA and Canada try to say that the Washington state case discovered in December 2003 was a U.S. case, but that animal actually was imported from Canada,” Mr Thornsberry said.

“The two true U.S. cases – one in a Texas cow, and one in an Alabama cow – have been classified as atypical strains of BSE, meaning they were not the same strain that caused the European epidemic and that now has infected the Canadian cattle herd,” he said.

Further Reading

       - You can visit our BSE information page by clicking here.

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