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Mad cow disease found in California

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Tuesday confirmed the first new case of mad-cow disease in the United States since 2006.

Dow Jones reported that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, was found in a dairy cow in California. It was discovered as part of the USDA's ongoing surveillance system for the disease.

Agency officials stressed that no meat from the animal entered the human food supply, though some dairy cows are slaughtered for food. USDA officials said they don't expect any foreign countries to ban U.S. beef because of the new mad-cow case. Still, there is concern that large international beef customers such as Japan and South Korea could impose a temporary ban.

Reuters provided quick commentary from a dozen or so people. Here are the comments from Tom Talbot, chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee:

When asked how long it will take to uncover more identifying information about the cow, Talbot said he expects to get more information each day from now on as USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture "jumped into this headfirst".

He said an atypical case indicates that the disease arose spontaneously or sporadically, perhaps through some kind of genetic mutation, rather than from contaminated feed.

"The good news is that this was not a breach of the feed ban or anything like that."

A breach of the feed ban could mean that many animals were contaminated, he said. "In this case, I think it would be extremely unlikely to find another animal found positive related to this cow."

His biggest concern is any impact to exports.

"I think, if we use sound science and follow what we know, there should be no disruption in trade. I know we are very concerned about that."

He said various trade groups and organizations are reaching out to trading partners to educate them.

"My guess is we'll probably see some short-term decline, but obviously we're hoping that this is a very, very short downturn that will return back to normal business within a very short time."

But the problem is that "we're not always dealing with sound science, we're dealing with political science …. There is absolutely no reason in the world why this should have any impact on whatever Japan has been doing as far as relaxing those issues. But you never know. We're concerned."