The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the detection of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from Tulare, California, last week, the nation's fourth case of BSE. The cow was never presented for slaughter for human consumption; it was targeted for postmortem screening at a rendering facility near its home farm in California, according to the USDA.
After the announcement on April 24th, NMPF issued a statement saying that “America’s dairy farmers are encouraged that the on-going surveillance and inspections performed by federal authorities continue to ensure that BSE does not enter the U.S. food supply.”
This is the fourth mad cow case in the U.S. since December 2003, when a cow imported from Canada was diagnosed at slaughter. The two cases since then, along with this recent case in California, were infected with an atypical strain of BSE that does not appear to be related to the consumption of feed infected with the prions that cause BSE. It was infected feed which spread the disease to nearly 200,000 cattle in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, where approximately 176 people later contracted a fatal encephalopathy from eating tainted beef products.
Scientific research indicates that BSE cannot be transmitted in cow's milk, even if the milk comes from a cow with BSE. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that tests on milk from BSE- infected cows have not shown any BSE infectivity. Milk and milk products are considered safe.