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Several countries ban Brazilian beef as mad-cow probe goes on

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SAO PAULO – The Brazilian Agriculture Ministry said on Thursday that Thailand, Iran and Jordan have temporarily suspended imports of beef from Brazil while authorities investigate a case of mad–cow disease in an animal from Para State, according to a statement sent to Reuters.

The ministry also confirmed that Russia has halted imports from Para state after the discovery of a mad cow disease case there.

Thailand, Iran and Jordan “have temporarily suspended beef imports from all over Brazil and Russia has introduced an embargo on beef exported from Para,” the ministry said. In addition, Brazil has suspended beef exports to China to fulfill terms of a trade agreement.

There is only one meatpacking plant in Para authorized to sell beef products to Russia, it added.

Brazil is investigating a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) on a nine-year old male animal from Para state. Discovery of the case, communicated on Feb. 20, triggered a self-imposed ban on Brazilian beef sales to China.

The animal was destroyed, and tests are pending to determine whether it developed the classic form of the disease or was an atypical case, which can occur spontaneously in all cattle populations and does not depend on ingestion of prion-contaminated feed.

Classic BSE is considered more serious because it involves contamination by the prion protein, and could trigger wide trade bans.

Russia’s suspension had been previously reported by local newspaper Valor Economico, which said the ban was enforced on Wednesday and covers live animals, fresh and processed meat and by-products.

Andrey Yurkov, Russia’s agricultural attaché in Brazil, declined to say whether the Russian ban may be lifted if the Brazilian government confirms the case is atypical, according to the Valor report.

Brazilian beef trade groups Abiec and Abrafrigo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. – Reuters

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