Five counties – not including the United States — have now banned Brazilian beef entirely as a precaution after the country’s handling of an incident of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2010.
Japan, China, South Africa, South Korea and Saudi Arabia have blocked beef from Brazil because of the BSE, or Mad Cow Disease report, which was not made public until Dec. 7, two years after the case occurred. It was Brazil’s first ever report of BSE. In a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Brazil blamed the delay in reporting the BSE incident on a laboratory backlog and priorities.
Among the five countries that have totally blocked Brazilian beef, only Saudi Arabia is among the top ten importing counties for the product. Egypt has blocked beef only from Brazil’s state of Parana, where two years ago a cow collapsed and died. A sample was eventually tested and was confirmed positive for BSE.
Brazil has downplayed the report, saying the cow was a so-called atypical case of BSE, like the one found in the U.S. last April, which did not get much reaction in international trade circles. USDA, however, launched an immediate investigation that included a quarantine of herds associated with the infected cow and testing.
There is no indication in Brazil’s report to the OIE that it did anything as thorough. Nevertheless, OIE has not changed Brazil’s low risk BSE status nor has it commented on the delayed reporting.
Brazil is one of the world’s largest beef exporters and also home to JBS SA, the world’s largest beef producer.
Russia continues to import beef from Brazil. Moscow is the top buyer of Brazilian beef.
The U.S., which has imported enough beef from Brazil to fulfill the beef demand of about one million Americans since 2010, should suspend imports of ruminants and ruminant products from Brazil, according to R-CALF USA, a Montana-based cattlemen’s association.
There has been no response to that suggestion from USDA.