A suspected case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) identified last month in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso was in all likelihood 'atypical,' and therefore there is no risk of an outbreak, the Agriculture Ministry said.
The ministry made the announcement after receiving the results of tests conducted on samples from the animal in the U.K. In truth, the report said there was no conclusive diagnosis, but the government said details in the report reinforced its hypothesis that this was not a classic case of the disease, popularly known as mad cow.
The World Animal Health Organization does not consider atypical cases as a threat to herds and will not likely alter Brazil's BSE risk rating from 'insignificant.'
In support of its claim, the ministry points out that the animal in Mato Grosso was over 10 years old, an age at which atypical BSE cases occur naturally, while the cow was exclusively fed on grass and not meat and bone meal, which is normally associated with classic BSE.
In 2012, a similar scare caused seven countries to ban beef from Brazil, the world's No. 1 exporter. However, most of those bans were lifted when it was established that the case was atypical.
This time around, no new bans were announced, and the Brazilian beef industry is confident that the case will not impede exports, which it expects to hit record levels in 2014.
Certainly, sales have been strong in the first four months of the year. Physical shipments were 10% higher on the year at 504,000 metric tons and revenue were up 10% at $2.2 billion, driven by strong demand from Iran, according to the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (ABIEC).
Fresh Brazilian beef exports are currently being assessed for approval in the U.S.
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