BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil’s agricultural ministry said on Saturday that beef exports to China and Hong Kong have been suspended after two cases of mad cow disease were discovered in separate domestic meat plants.
The immediate suspension, part of an animal health pact between Brazil, the world’s largest beef exporter, and China, its leading customer, aims to enable Brazil to assess the situation and decide when to re-accept imports, the ministry added.
The suspension is a major blow for Brazilian ranchers, as China and Hong Kong purchase over 50 percent of Brazil’s beef exports.
The ministry confirmed the cases were identified in meat plants in Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais, and were the fourth and fifth cases of mad cow disease detected in the country in 23 years.
The two cases were confirmed on Friday after samples were sent to the laboratory of the World Organization for Animal Health in Canada, the ministry said, affirming that, in line with international protocols, the OIE was subsequently informed about the cases, which pose no risk to animal or human health.
Brazil’s government is hoping the suspension will be lifted soon, as its economy relies on its long-struggling agribusiness sector, with China being the country’s leading trade partner and purchasing considerable amounts of Brazilian commodities.
(Photo credit: Phys.org).