Reported mad cow disease in California poses no threat to nation's food supply
BY Wire Reports
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
4/25/12 at 3:27 AM
A new case of mad cow disease has surfaced in a dairy cow in California, but the animal was not bound for the nation's food supply and posed no danger, the Agriculture Department said Tuesday.
Dennis Luckey, executive vice president of Baker Commodities in Hanford, told The Associated Press the cow was found to have the disease after the company selected the animal for random testing at its transfer station in Hanford, Calif.
John Clifford, the Agriculture Department's chief veterinary officer, said the cow was the fourth such bovine discovered in the United States since the government began inspecting for the disease.
"There is really no cause for alarm here with regard to this animal," Clifford told reporters at a hastily convened news conference in Washington, D.C.
On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, cattle futures for June delivery fell by the exchange limit of 3 cents, or 2.6 percent, to settle at $1.11575 a pound. That's the lowest level since July 1 and the biggest percentage drop on a most-active contract since May 23.
Prices tumbled 21 percent in December 2003, when the U.S. government confirmed a case of mad cow disease had been found. U.S. beef shipments plunged 82 percent in 2004 as importers shunned the meat, government data show.
"It's all fear," Chad Henderson, a market analyst for Prime Agricultural Consultants Inc., told Bloomberg News from Brookfield, Wis. "I don't know if it's going to affect beef demand much. The problem is the perception will run this market right now."
The BSE announcement "could also hurt the grain markets, with all livestock prices headed down," Henderson said. "It's just not going to be positive for corn or meal demand."
Corn futures dropped 0.7 percent to close at $6.08 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Clifford did not say when the disease was discovered or exactly where the cow was raised.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. The World Health Organization has said that tests show that humans cannot be infected by drinking milk from BSE-infected animals.
The disease is always fatal in cattle, however. There have been three confirmed cases of BSE in the United states, in a Canadian-born cow in 2003 in Washington state, in 2005 in Texas and in 2006 in Alabama.
The Agriculture Department is sharing its lab results with international animal health officials in Canada and England, Clifford said. Clifford said the California cow is an atypical case in that it didn't get the disease from eating infected cattle feed.
In people, eating meat contaminated with BSE is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare and deadly nerve disease. A massive outbreak of mad cow disease in the United Kingdom that peaked in 1993 was blamed for the deaths of 180,000 cattle and more than 150 people.
There have been a handful of cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease confirmed in people living in the United States, but those were linked to meat products in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Original Print Headline: Mad cow reported in California
This story was compiled from reports by The Associated Press and Bloomberg News.
Cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange dropped by the biggest percentage in 11 months Tuesday after a case of mad cow disease surfaced in California. Bloomberg file