Japan has halted imports of beef from Brazil, after the Brazilian government notified the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) of the discovery of the protein believed to cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow that died in 2010.

Brazilian officials said the animal that died in Parana in December 2010 did not have BSE, commonly called mad cow disease, reports Reuters. The OIE has maintained Brazil's status as a country with an insignificant risk of BSE, Brazilian officials said, adding Brazil would pursue legal action if necessary against any importer trying to exploit BSE claims to block imports of Brazilian beef.

Officials said that the protein likely appeared after a spontaneous genetic mutation in the 13-year-old cow. Tests carried out in England this month by the OIE confirmed the presence of the protein.

Source: Reuters