The man heading the nation's largest cattle organization says if the government and industry handle Tuesday's bovine spongiform encephalopathy potential find with a deft hand, it's unlikely to result in decline in demand for U.S. beef.
This will be the likely impact, says Terry Stokes, chief executive officer of the National Cattle Beef Association, "if we can emphasize to our consumers that our system works, that the interlocking firewalls are in place â€¦ that this animal did not enter food or the feed chain."
The latest BSE announcement came just as NCBA began its summer convention in Denver, Colo., where talk among conventioneers now turns to what the impact of this second BSE find in a month will be on the U.S. market. "It's hard to speculate on that," says Stokes.
Considering the lack of impact the two previous BSE finds had on demand and cattle prices, Stokes says the effect of this week's announcement should not be great. "Consumers still have a strong demand for our product and want beef at the center of their plates," he says.
Unlike the first two U.S. finds which were tested immediately after the samples were taken, USDA says this week's find was collected in April by a private veterinarian who treated it with a preservative, set it aside, and claims he forgot to submit it to the Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service for testing until last week.
APHIS spokesman John Clifford says the animal was destroyed after testing and therefore could not enter the food chain or animal feed and be a threat. Location of the find and whether it was a beef or dairy cow has not yet been revealed.
"Our laboratory ran the IHC (immunohistochemistry) test on the sample and received non-definitive results that suggested the need for further testing," says Clifford. Depending on the "slice" of tissue tested, it's possible for one IHC test to yield differing results.
Tests will be run on additional slices of tissue to determine if there is a BSE infection. "We will announce results as soon as they are compiled, which we expect by next week," Clifford says.