USDA ISSUES BSE UPDATE
USDA announced today that DNA evidence now helps to verify-with a high degree of certainty-that the BSE positive cow found in Washington State originated from a dairy farm in Alberta, Canada. This DNA evidence is based on a comparison of DNA from the positive cow with the DNA from her sire and was confirmed by both U.S. and Canadian animal health laboratories.
Additional DNA testing continues at this time involving the heifer calf on the index farm which was born from this positive cow. Breeding records on that calf confirm that the animal was born from the cow bearing the tag number found at slaughter and found in the records on the farm in Alberta.
This new DNA information, coupled with the documentation that USDA has obtained from its colleagues in Canada, the owner of the dairy farm in Mabton, Washington, and from import records, further increases USDA's confidence in the accuracy of this traceback.
Other elements of the investigation continue on both sides of the border and may provide additional information. This includes the cattle feed investigation in Canada as well as the additional DNA testing.
As a point of clarification, on USDA's technical briefing call this afternoon in conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canada's Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Brian Evans, commented that 17 young stock from the BSE-infected animal's birth herd also arrived in the United States as part of a later shipment. USDA and Canadian officials are currently working to confirm if any or all of these 17 animals-all heifers-did in fact enter the United States.
In another important development, USDA personnel began the process of depopulating the bull calf operation outside Sunnyside, Washington, this morning. Approximately 450 calves have been transported from the farm to a designated slaughter facility to be euthanized according to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.
FSIS will now focus its efforts toward verifying the return and destruction of the recalled products.
Consumers with other food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.