The USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) has lifted a quarantine placed on two California dairy farms after a cow was diagnosed positive for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), popularly known as “mad cow disease”, in April 2012.
The animal was the country’s fourth case of BSE. The USDA’s National Veterinary Services Labs tested the brain samples from the cow and sent them to the World Health Organization for Animal Health labs in England and Canada. Those labs confirmed the diagnosis of atypical BSE.
The government studied the feed records at the quarantined dairies and found no link between the animal feed and the disease. The USDA’s statement said that “audits of all the feed suppliers to the index premises have shown them to be in compliance with the regulations.”
The cow that tested positive for BSE had two offspring. One was stillborn; the second was euthanized and was found to be negative for BSE. The agency is still searching for ten to twelve cattle called “birth cohort cattle” or animals that are born on the same farm as the positive cow within the same year, that may still be alive. The other cattle born within that year have died.
The consumer advocacy group Consumeraffairs.com says that consumers can take extra steps to protect themselves against BSE if they want to, although experts state the risk of contracting it through food is extremely low. Simply do not eat brains, neck bones, beef cheeks, bone marrow, and cuts of beef that are sold on the bone. You may want to grind your own ground beef, or purchase ground beef that has been ground on a store’s premises to avoid bone mixed into the meat.