Even as the US mad cow disease has been traced in California there is no panic reaction among the importers and consumers of US beef as was witnessed in 2003 and during 1990s in England.
Though retailers in South Korea and Indonesia stopped its sale Japan, Mexico and Canada have kept their doors wide open.
The case of disease has been traced to a Tulare County dairy in California.
According to Larry Hawkins, a spokesman for the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service the Federal inspectors on Wednesday identified the dairy and were interviewing its operator.
However, he declined to identify the dairy and added investigators would re-trace ownership of the five-year old cow before it arrived at the dairy. He said efforts are on to find out where did the disease come from and are there other animals at risk of having the disease or not.
It is the first US case since 2006 and fourth since 2003. The disease is also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It attacks the brain and is fatal to cows. Humans can get it from eating tainted meat. But federal and state officials said that the diseased cow they found was not destined for the food chain.
Officials dismissed concerns that the cow might have got the disease from tainted feed. Hawkins said tissue samples showed the disease developed from a mutation of genes.
Still, researchers need to check to see if other cows from the same herd show signs of the genetic mutation.
Though two South Korean retailers announced that they removed US beef from their store shelves, the South Korean government has said that it will increase inspections of US beef. But major beef importers like Canada, Japan and Mexico have not imposed any restriction.
It was in 2003 that the United States discovered its first case of mad cow disease in an animal that came from Canada. There was sharp reaction and by 2004, US beef exports plummeted from $3.9 billion to $809 million. But this time foreign buyers and consumers have been reassured that the US surveillance system for mad cow disease is working.
Dairy operators said they did not feel any extra anxiety over the recent case, saying they are aware of federal advisories that the disease does not pass from animal-to-animal contact or to humans through milk.
The most common way the cattle get mad cow is from contaminated feed. The US government took a big step in 1997 by banning the use of animal proteins in cattle feed. Before then, it was common for cow organs to be added to feed. It was this practice which led to the mad cow disease in Britain which devastated its herds in the 1990s.