The initial upset over Tuesday's announcement of the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. in six years has started to subside. A dairy cow at a rendering facility in California was determined to have the disease based on samples sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford's April 24 statement , "Confirmatory results using immunohistochemistry and western blot tests confirmed the animal was positive for atypical BSE, a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed."

Click here to visit the USDA's hub for BSE information.

Further statements from Clifford and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed that the BSE case presents no threat to the food supply.

Clifford said, "The carcass of the animal is being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed.


It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health. Additionally, milk does not transmit BSE."

Click here to watch a video of Clifford discussing the BSE case.

Further reassurance for the dairy industry came yesterday, when the U.S. Food & Drug Administration released a 30-second video of Mike Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods, saying that "consumers needn't be concerned about the safety of milk."

Live cattle futures fell three cents per pound Tuesday. By Wednesday, the market was recovering.

According to The Wall Street Journal 's commodities department, "Live-cattle futures prices for April delivery closed up 1.5 percent Wednesday, as traders were encouraged by assurances from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that no meat from the California dairy cow that contracted the disease had entered the U.S. food supply.

Cattle prices also received a lift from news that Japan, South Korea and Mexico had no plans to change their import policies for U.S. beef."

Click here to read the full Wall Street Journal article.

Although the BSE diagnosis at the California rendering facility may not have the drastic, long-lasting market effects that were initially feared, the incident is feeding the food safety debate.

It is also turning the magnifying glass on the current U.S. safeguards against BSE, which includes testing samples from approximately 40,000 animals each year from among cattle populations where the disease is most likely to be found.

Reuters reported, "While the specter of mad cow disease as a health scourge has faded during a decade of success in controlling the disease - only 29 cases were reported worldwide last year, down from a peak of over 37,000 in 1992 - the latest case has emboldened those in favor of more testing."

Click here to read the full Reuters article. PD