A day after the fourth-ever U.S. case of mad cow disease was confirmed in a California dairy cow, officials are characterizing it as an example of effective inspections, but from other reports it sounds like it was basically a lucky break. To some extent, both angles are true. But as only two South Korean retailers have so far canceled U.S. beef orders, compared with the multitude of nations that halted imports in 2003, it sounds like the rest of the world is tentatively going with the first scenario, to the relief of U.S. trade officials.
As Bloomberg's Rudy Ruitenberg reports, the discovery "shouldn’t affect the U.S. status of 'controlled risk' for BSE, the Paris-based intergovernmental animal health group, known by its French acronym OIE, wrote in an e-mailed statement today." The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's chief veterinary officer, Juan Lubroth, said: "The fact that the U.S. picked it up before it entered the food chain and the fact that they were transparent should give more confidence to the trading partners, not less." And of course USDA chief veterinarian John Clifford says he's confident in U.S. cattle: "USDA remains confident in the health of the national herd and the safety of beef and dairy products."