BRASILIA, Brazil – China and South Africa are suspending imports of beef from Brazil after a case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy was confirmed recently, according to Reuters. Officials from the two countries informed Brazil of their intentions on Dec. 13.
This move brings the number of countries suspending Brazilian beef imports to three. Japan suspended beef imports from Brazil on Dec. 10 after the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) conducted tests on tissue from a Brazilian cow and confirmed the presence of prions, the protein linked to BSE. The OIE report stated that the animal was a beef breeding cow almost 13 years old when it died. The cow also was tested for rabies before being “properly buried”.
Officials in countries imposing suspensions on Brazilian beef imports expressed concern by the two-year delay between the cow’s death and the confirmation of prions in its tissue, according to Reuters. An official with the Brazilian agriculture ministry told Reuters a “logistical anomaly” at the testing laboratory caused the delay.
Brazilian officials have launched an aggressive response to the incident, saying they would take legal action against any importer trying to use BSE claims to block imports of Brazilian beef.