PARIS – Bernard Vallat, Director General of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), called for countries that have banned imports of beef from Brazil to lift restrictions immediately, according to Reuters.

China, Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Jordan imposed bans on Brazilian beef imports after the OIE discovered a protein believed to cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a cow. OIE tested tissue from the Brazilian cow and confirmed the presence of prions, the protein linked to BSE. The animal was a beef breeding cow almost 13 years old when it died. The cow never developed BSE and never made it into the food chain.

Brazil's foreign trade secretary said the country was considering retaliatory action through the World Trade Organization. Countries that imposed bans have until March to lift them before Brazil takes action through the WTO.

Vallat said the bans should be lifted based on OIE standards. He said one case out of 2 million head of cattle did not justify a change in Brazil’s BSE status, according to Reuters.