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Brazil reports BSE case

published: March 3rd 2023
by: Martha A Hollida
source: Southern Livestock Standard

On Feb. 22nd the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry announced that they had confirmed a case of

bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Per trade protocols, shipment of Brazilian beef was is halted to China, who is their largest beef customer. According to U.S. Meat Export Federation, Brazil accounted for almost half of China’s beef imports in 2022 and in January 2023 that number was almost 60%.


Samples from the infected cow have been sent to a World Organization for Animal Health lab in Canada to determine the form of the disease. This lab will report on whether this is a classic form of BSE, or some atypical variation. The atypical form is more common in older animals and considered lower risk.


The infected animal was located in the northern state of Para and was part of a 160 head herd.


"The symptomatology indicates that it is the atypical form of the disease, which appears spontaneously in nature, causing no risk of dissemination to the herd and to humans," the Para agricultural defense agency said in a statement.



It was just two years ago that two cases in Brazil suspended beef exports to China for three months as the infected animals were ruled to have the atypical form of the disease.


The announcement comes one day after U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to suspend Brazilian beef imports to the United States until experts can conduct a systemic review of the commodity’s impact on food safety and animal health.

Rounds and Tester first introduced the bill in November 2021 after Brazil revealed two cases of atypical BSE or “Mad Cow Disease” that June. Most countries report similar cases to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) immediately, with both the United Kingdom and Germany reporting cases to OIE within days of their occurrence that same year, but Brazil reported its cases more than two months after the fact, breaking trust with the OIE and global trading partners. This has been a routine occurrence, with Brazil also waiting months or even years to report similar cases in 2012, 2014 and 2019.




The U.S. can still receive exports from the country, as under the current trade structure, Brazil is part of an 18-country trade group, contributing to a 65,000 metric ton quota of beef to be imported to the U.S.


This could create more demand for  U.S. beef, where supplies are already historically tight. It will depend upon the lab’s findings and the resulting length of the suspension of exports from Brazil to China.


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