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D.C. News...

published: November 26th 2021
by: Martha Hollida Garrett

Latest news on the Brazilian beef disease issue

A bill that would suspend imports of Brazilian beef until USDA can conduct a safety review has been introduced by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (R-Mont.). In a statement, Tester said the bill was in response to repeated issues with de-layed reporting of Bovine Spongiform Encephalo-pathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease, in Brazilian beef.
    “Montanans demand the highest level of safety and certainty in their beef, and Brazilian imports aren’t making the cut,” Tester said. “Folks expect their beef to have been rigorously tested against the strictest of standards, and concerns about Brazilian imports not only jeopardize consumer trust, but present a serious risk to Montana producers. We owe it to our domestic producers and consumers to halt Brazilian imports until we can guarantee their beef and reporting standards are making the grade.”
    The National Cattle-men’s Beef Association (NCBA) and R-CALF USA have called for U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to end the import of Brazilian beef to the U.S.
    “NCBA has serious concerns that the recent events are evidence that Brazil may lack credible food safety and animal health systems, and Brazil’s irresponsible behavior may pose a significant threat to the health and safety of the U.S. cattle herd,” NCBA said in a letter to Vilsack.
    NCBA went on to say that according to reports published by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Brazil took more than eight weeks to report two confirmed cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The OIE requires countries to report within 24 hours for any animal disease event that could be of international concern for public health emergencies.
    After the market devastation of 2003, American cattle producers have worked diligently to protect consumers and restore confidence both at home and abroad. Farmers and ranchers benefit greatly from the demand for beef that is built upon a commitment to integrity, transparency, and the highest scientific standards.
    The consumer trust that our producers have worked so hard to build must not be jeopardized by any country that seeks to cut corners or conceal the truth about food safety concerns. Bra-zilian beef companies must prove that they are worthy of access to American consumers. 
    In June, Brazil had two cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). But relevant authorities didn’t report the cases to the OIE until September.
    Atypical BSE generally occurs in older cattle, and it seems to occur spontaneously and sporadically in all cattle populations. Classical BSE has been linked to variant Creutz-feldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people.

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