China Bans Beef Import From UK As ‘mad Cow’ Disease Emerges Again


republicworld– China has imposed a ban on British beef imports under 30 months of age following a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or “mad cow” disease surfaced in the United Kingdom last month, reported BBC News. The UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) confirmed a case of BSE in a farm in Somerset in September this year. According to a statement from the General Administration of Customs, the ban has come into the effect from September 29. China is yet to resume buying beef from the UK after lifting the previous ban three years ago. It should be noted here that China imposed a ban during earlier outbreaks of BSE in the 1990s before lifting it in 2018. At that time, the UK government estimated that relaxing the prohibition would be worth £250 million to British producers over the next five years. The decision to lift the ban was taken after years of site inspections and negotiations between London and Beijing authorities, reported BBC News.

In the wake of the latest ban by China, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was working to reassure Chinese authorities that the BSE case had been successfully contained and that import conditions could be met. Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said the country has “some of the highest standards of biosecurity in the world,” backed up by “strong control systems.” He asserted that their products are completely safe to be traded, reported BBC News. Meanwhile, the United States declared in September that it will abolish its decades-long restriction on British lamb imports. Following the initial BSE outbreaks in 1989, the United States had banned British lamb imports. Last year, British beef exports to the United States were resumed for the first time since 1996.

What is BSE?

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is commonly called “mad cow disease.” The term ‘Bovine means the disease affects cows, ‘spongiform’ because the brain of a sick cow appears spongy under a microscope, and the term ‘encephalopathy’ means that it is a brain-related disease. BSE is a progressive neurologic illness that affects cows. It is progressive in the sense that it worsens over a period of time. The term “neurologic” refers to damage to a cow’s central nervous system.

Causes and symptoms of BSE

BSE is considered to be caused by a protein known as a prion, according to the majority of scientists. The normal prion protein turns into an abnormal prion protein which is dangerous. The body of a sick cow remains completely unaware of the presence of an unusual prion, hence, struggles in fending off the disease. Incoordination is a common symptom of BSE in cows. Walking and getting up become difficult for a sick cow. BSE is also known as “mad cow disease” because a diseased cow might become anxious or violent. There is currently no viable approach to detect BSE in a live cow. When a cow dies, scientists can detect if it had BSE by looking at the spongy appearance of its brain tissue under a microscope, according to the FDA.