After concerns starting swirling late last year about a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Brazil, the World Organization for Animal Health's (OIE) Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases last week determined that Brazil is still under "negligible risk" status.
The Commission also affirmed that the identification of this single case of BSE is not putting the country’s or its trading partners’ animal and public health at risk, notably because the animal was destroyed and no parts of it entered the food or feed chain.
The Commission however, noted with concern that there had been a considerable delay before Brazil sent the clinical samples for a confirmatory diagnosis to an OIE Reference Laboratory. The Commission therefore agreed that it needed more detailed information on the procedures in place for processing samples and the improvement of the surveillance system in the country so as to further monitor the continuous compliance by Brazil with the relevant provisions of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code to be respected for the sustainable maintenance of its official status for BSE.
The Commission will again assess the additional information to be provided by Brazil at its September 2013 meeting.
Importing countries react
Several countries have already reacted to the case in December and January by implementing restrictions on beef imports. Those countries include China, South Africa, Japan, Saudi Arabia and others.
According to Reuters, Brazil's Foreign Trade Secretary Tatiana Prazeres says Brazil would consider WTO retaliation if the countries do not lift the bans. Further, the animal in question, 13-year-old grassfed cow, never developed BSE, but tested positive for the protein that causes the disease.