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Brazil Says its Beef is Free of Mad Cow Disease

Wednesday Dec 12, 2012

Brazil is working to convince importers that its beef is free of mad cow disease, the Agriculture Ministry said Tuesday.

The campaign follows a ministry report saying that the carcass of a cow that died two years ago in southern Brazil contained disease-carrying proteins, or prions, but the animal did not "manifest the disease nor die of it".

"This episode does not pose any risk to public health or animal sanitary safety, considering that the animal did not die of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (the scientific name of mad cow disease) and the fact that it was buried in the property itself," the ministry said in a statement.

Japan's government has already placed a ban on Brazilian beef. While Japan is not a big buyer of Brazil's beef, officials are worried other nations may follow suit.

During the first 10 months of the year Brazil exported $7.6 million worth of beef to Japan - a drop in the bucket considering that total worldwide exports amounted to $4.8 billion, according to the Brazilian Association of Beef Exporters.

Officials said that Brazil will send missions to the top 20 nations that buy its beef to explain the case.

"The government will provide all the necessary clarifications to eliminate all doubts as to our animal sanitation defense system," Jose Carlos Vaz, the ministry's secretary general said in a statement.

Brazil is the world's second-largest exporter of beef, according to the Brazilian Association of Beef Exporters.

The ministry said in a statement that the case was reported to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, which has maintained Brazil's "status as a country with insignificant risk" of mad cow disease.

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