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Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case in Brazil: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Is beef meat produced in Brazil safe for consumption?
Eating red meat (i.e. deboned skeletal muscle meat) poses no risk to consumers, regardless of the BSE risk status of the cattle population of the producing country. Besides, in this case in Brazil, the dead animal was destroyed and did not enter the food or feed chain.

Are import bans on Brazilian beef and beef products justified according to OIE’s recommendations?
The international standard for BSE provides recommendations on the safe trade of meat and other products, even from countries with BSE. The OIE’s international standards are democratically adopted by all OIE Member Countries; but the World Trade Organization rules allow its Members to apply trade restrictions on a provisional basis while awaiting further information.

Does this case lead to a suspension of the current OIE disease status of Brazil?
BSE is a disease for which the OIE established official recognition of the sanitary status in countries and zones. The OIE has defined a transparent, science-based and impartial procedure for the recognition of BSE risk status of Member Countries. Brazil is recognised as having a negligible BSE risk i.e. the most favourable category.
As the OIE procedure is based on an overall assessment of risk, the occurrence of a BSE case does not automatically lead to a suspension of the BSE risk status, except in the event of a change in the epidemiological situation indicating failure of the BSE risk mitigating measures in place. So far there is no reason for suspending Brazil’s BSE risk status. Epidemiologic aspects of this event will be examined and discussed at the next meeting of the Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases in February 2013.

Why such a delay in the notification of BSE case?
BSE is a complex disease, not easily diagnosed. According to statements made by Brazilian animal health authorities, national regulations and routine procedures applicable to suspected neurological diseases in a country with a negligible risk were followed but had some logistical problems in a national laboratory, leading to the delay in obtaining confirmatory diagnosis.
What does atypical BSE mean?
There are naturally and sporadic occurring forms of encephalopathies in several mammalian species, including man. The pathogenesis of sporadic forms of BSE (which would be called “atypical” to distinguish them from the forms occurring through contaminated feed) is currently under scientific investigation. At present time, the OIE does not yet recognise an atypical form of BSE as a distinct entity for the purpose of its international standards; therefore, it is not mentioned in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code, which does not distinguish between different forms of BSE.  

For more information on the disease, official OIE status recognition and recommendations please access the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code online: https://www.oie.int/en/international-standard-setting/terrestrial-code/access-online/