* Brazil ag ministry said Friday cow did not die of BSE
* Japan imports only heat-treated beef from Brazil
TOKYO/BRASILIA Dec 10 Japan says it has halted
beef imports from top exporter Brazil after the South American
nation notified the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) of
the discovery of the protein believed to cause bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow.
Brazilian officials said last Friday the pasture-fed animal
that died in Parana in December 2010 did not have BSE, commonly
called mad cow disease, denying reports that were published on
some local media web sites
Japan imported 1,435 tonnes of Brazilian beef in 2011,
accounting for 0.3 percent of total beef imports, Japanese
Agriculture Ministry data showed.
The OIE has maintained Brazil's status as a country with an
insignificant risk of BSE, Brazilian officials said, adding that
Brazil would pursue legal action if necessary against any
importer trying to exploit BSE claims to block imports of
Brazilian agriculture ministry officials were meeting on
Monday to consider their response to Japan's decision, and would
make a declaration later in the day, a press official said.
The outbreak of mad cow disease in Europe, North America and
Japan over the past decade often prompted beef importers to
embargo shipments and caused temporary chaos in the industry.
Brazil is the world's largest beef exporter.
Results of tests carried out in England this month by the
OIE on tissue from the Brazilian cow, confirmed the presence of
the protein, called a prion, Brazilian officials said on Friday.
The official OIE report confirmed that the animal did not
die of BSE and said it may have had an 'atypical' case of the
disease, meaning one arising spontaneously from a genetic
mutation which can arise in older cattle.
The animal was 13 years old and had been kept for breeding
The Brazilian agriculture ministry said the cow would have
been unlikely to go on to develop full blown BSE had it not died
of other causes. The presence of the protein, known as a prion,
qualifies as an atypical case of BSE.
Japan imports only heat-treated beef from Brazil as it
cannot bring in fresh beef from the South American nation, which
has previously had incidents of foot-and-mouth disease.