3 Mar 2023

Several countries ban Brazilian beef as mad-cow probe goes on

8:02 pm on 3 March 2023
A costumer checks the beef section of a supermarket in Curitiba, Brazil, on February 23, 2023. - As of February 23, 2023, Brazil temporarily suspended its beef exports to China, its main buyer, following the official health protocol after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was confirmed by the Ministry of Agriculture. Brazil made the announcement on February 22, 2023, after detecting a case of the so-called "mad cow" disease in the northen state of Para.

A costumer checks the beef section of a supermarket in Curitiba, Brazil, on 23 February, 2023. Photo: AFP / Eduardo Matysiak

A confirmed case of mad cow disease in Brazil discovered last month is "atypical," the Agriculture Ministry says.

The ministry said it would work to lift beef export suspensions swiftly enacted by several countries in Asia.

The suspension on exports represents a major risk for Brazil's key livestock sector, one of the world's largest.

In a statement, the agriculture ministry pointed to an analysis conducted by the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) that confirmed the unusual case of mad cow disease.

The ministry said it would schedule a virtual meeting with Chinese officials to discuss a resumption of beef exports.

The case of mad cow disease, known scientifically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was found in a nine-year old bull from northern Para state.

The discovery was made public on 20 February and triggered an automatic ban on Brazilian beef sales to China.

Earlier, three additional Asian markets - Thailand, Iran and Jordan - slapped temporarily bans on beef imported from anywhere in Brazil.

Russian authorities also halted Brazilian beef imports, but only from Para state, according to an earlier statement from the ministry.

There is only one meatpacking plant in Para authorised to sell beef to Russia.

Brazil's ministry of agriculture and livestock emphasised that it aims to re-establish beef exports "as soon as possible."

The infected animal has already been destroyed. Officials explained that atypical cases of mad cow disease can occur spontaneously in cattle populations and such infections do not depend on ingestion of feed contaminated by abnormal pathogens known as prions.

But BSE is considered more serious because it involves contamination by so-called prion proteins, and could trigger potentially ruinous trade bans.


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