Following USDA's Dec. 25, confirmation that a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy had been found in a dairy cow in Washington state, agency officials began to investigate the animal's origin.

USDA has since found records indicating the cow was imported from Canada. USDA has traced the animal through ear-tag identification to Canadian records. These records suggest the cow is more than six-years-old and entered the United States with 73 other animals that USDA also is tracing. USDA authorities have confirmed the central nervous system tissue from this animal never entered the human food chain. Rather it was sent to rendering for non-human food uses. While the nervous-system tissue is of most concern, the agency is tracking the placement of the animal's meat. USDA officials contend there is no threat to human health. The Food and Drug Administration also announced today that they have "under control" all the rendered product from this Washington state cow.

Most of the U.S. trading partners have taken immediate action to temporarily and totally close their borders to U.S. beef. One notable exception was the action taken by the Canadian government to "establish restrictions based on science." As a result, the United States will be able to continue to ship boned beef from cattle younger than 30 months of age to Canada. U.S. Meat Export Federation’s message to U.S. trading partners continues to include the following points:

  • The United States government is working to ensure that the investigation of this incident is rapid, accurate and thorough, and USMEF will keep U.S. trading partners and the Organization of Inernational Epizootics informed of all developments. 

 As part of the BSE response plan, the farm from which the suspected animal came has been quarantined. 

 The plant where the Holstein cow was slaughtered was not a participant in the beef export verification program meaning it does not export beef. 

USDA and FDA have developed and are implementing emergency response plans to prevent the unlikely spread of the disease. 

The U.S. recognizes that the OIE has established guidelines for trade in animals and animal products from countries that have detected BSE. The U.S. government and private industry have been working with the OIE in advancing the science and application of safe trade in animal and animal products. This is especially important for countries that have put in place effective measures over a number of years to manage the risk of BSE and have taken aggressive steps to respond, as the U.S. has done. For more information go to 

USDA, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. Meat Export Federation