Philippines halts UK beef imports because of BSE risk

Philippines halts UK beef imports because of BSE risk

by Sue Jones
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The Philippines has temporarily banned beef exports from the United Kingdom because of a case of classical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.

The Department of Agriculture suspension covers the import of live cattle, meat and meat products from cattle.

The agency said classical BSE is a zoonotic disease which may pose a risk to consumers because of its link with the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans.

Shipments before communication of the decision to British authorities are allowed provided the slaughter and production date is on or before Aug. 31, 2021.

The case of BSE was detected on a farm in Somerset, England, and was reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Sept. 17.

It was confirmed in a six and a half-year-old cow on a dairy farm that has 172 lactating cows plus replacement heifers. The cow was close to calving and the farmer had noticed abnormal behavior, according to an OIE notice.

The animal was not sent for slaughter and did not enter the food chain so there is no threat to food safety or human health, said officials.

All cohorts and offspring of the BSE case have been identified and placed under movement restrictions. They will be culled and screened for BSE.

Classical BSE occurs in cattle after ingesting prion contaminated feed, according to OIE.

APHA action
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has put the online process to apply for an export health certificate to send fresh and frozen beef to the Philippines on hold.

APHA is investigating the herd, the premises, potential sources of infection and will report findings at a later date.

A Food Standards Agency spokesperson said there are strict controls to protect consumers from the risk of BSE.

“Consumers can be reassured that these important protection measures remain in place and that FSA official veterinarians and meat hygiene inspectors working in all abattoirs in England will continue to ensure that the safety of consumers remains the top priority,” according to the spokesperson.

In mid-September, the Philippines also banned live cattle, meat and meat products from cattle from Brazil because of two cases of atypical BSE in the states of Mato Grosso and Minais Gerais.

Brazil also stopped imports of beef to China, one of its main markets, because of the findings. Atypical BSE usually occurs in older cattle at a low rate.

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