The US Department of Agriculture on Tuesday revealed that it had detected a case of Mad Cow disease in California, as it scrambled to reassure consumers that beef is still safe to eat.
"The US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the nation's fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California," a statement said.
US officials said the cow did not enter the food chain and "at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health." "Milk does not transmit BSE," it added.
Previous Mad Cow discoveries in the United States, Britain and elsewhere have caused massive disruptions to the food trade worth billions of dollars and resulted in the slaughtering of entire herds of cattle.
The US government, cognizant of the risks of a panic, was at pains to stress everything is under control.
"Evidence shows that our systems and safeguards to prevent BSE are working, as are similar actions taken by countries around the world."
"(The US Department of Agriculture) remains confident in the health of the national herd and the safety of beef and dairy products. As the epidemiological investigation progresses, USDA will continue to communicate findings in a timely and transparent manner."
More than 190,000 cases of Mad Cow disease have been detected in the EU since it was first diagnosed in Britain in 1986, forcing the destruction of millions of cows.
More than 200 people around the world are suspected to have died, most of them in Britain, from the human variant of the disease, which was first described in 1996.
Scientists believe the disease was caused by using infected parts of cattle to make feed for other cattle.
Authorities believe eating meat from infected animals can trigger the human variant of the fatal brain-wasting disease.
Source: AFP Global Edition