China will not import beef from Brazil after BSE cow is discovered

China has immediately stopped importing Brazilian beef after the discovery of two cases of 'atypical' BSE mad cow disease in two Brazilian meat factories. Brazil is the world's largest beef exporter, and China is their largest customer.

The two BSE cases were identified in the states of Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais. They are the fourth and fifth 'atypical' cases of BSE in Brazil in 23 years. A suspected case was reported in the Brazilian media late last week.

The two cases were confirmed Friday after samples were sent to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) lab in Alberta, Canada.

The "atypical" mad cow disease develops spontaneously and is not related to eating contaminated food, authorities in Rio de Janeiro emphasized. Brazil has never had a case of "classic" mad cow disease,

The immediate shutdown of the meat trade is part of a trade deal between China and Brazil that aims to give Beijing time for further investigation. This procedure is more or less comparable to international reports of swine fever or bird flu.

China is very alert to this and almost always immediately stops all imports. China will decide when to start importing beef from Brazil again. The suspension is a major blow to Brazilian farmers: China and Hong Kong buy more than half of Brazil's beef exports.