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Mad cow in California: Beef and milk are safe, officials say

April 24, 2012 |  3:16 pm

Cows

Federal regulators on Tuesday said the food supply was not threatened even though mad cow disease was found in a dairy cow in the Central Valley.

The carcass “was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health,” John Clifford, the USDA’s chief veterinarian said in a statement.

He also stressed that the milk supply was safe.

The animal was found at a rendering facility. But the exact location was not revealed. Meat did not enter the food chain and the carcass will be destroyed, Clifford said.

This is the fourth confirmed case of the brain-wasting disease in the U.S. cattle herd since the first case was discovered in December 2003 in an animal that came from Canada.

Mad cow disease, which humans can get by eating beef from infected cattle, has killed 171 people and been responsible for the deaths of more than 4 million cattle, slaughtered in attempts to eradicate the disease.

Officially known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the infection is caused by prion proteins that cause the brain to start breaking down.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) told Reuters on Tuesday:  "The most important facets of this detection are that the cow in question was identified through our rigorous system of interlocking safeguards; it did not enter the food chain; and that American beef and dairy continue to be among the safest in the world. Because the U.S. remains fully compliant with international animal health standards, there should be no impact on trade. Americans and the entire world should continue to be confident in the safety of American beef."

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-- From a Times staff writer

Photo: Cows being studied at a research facility at University of California, Davis. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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