China and South Africa have halted imports of beef from Brazil following a case of atypical BSE that was confirmed last week, reports Reuters. Japan had previously suspended Brazilian imports last week.

Brazil has launched a diplomatic offensive to clarify the details of the case of suspected atypical BSE, which it has been at pains to differentiate from regular BSE - known as mad cow disease - which is usually caused by contaminated feed. In Brazil’s case, a 13-year-old cow tested positive for prions, which are the distorted proteins that can trigger BSE. The cow died of other causes and had never developed the disease.

None of the three countries that have banned Brazilian beef were large exporters. The largest exporter is Russia, which has released a statement say that the country is weighing its options. Previously, Russia said that Brazil’s recent ban on the feed additive ractopamine may actually lead to Brazil increasing its exports to Russia. That may come at the expense of the United States, given that Russia has called for all U.S. and Canadian beef and pork exports to be certified ractopamine-free.

Brazil banned the use of ractopamine on Nov. 12 and eventually plans to have a split system in place enabling it to produce ractopamine-free meat for some buyers like Russia, and use it in meat for other destinations.

Russia's food safety watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, said it was satisfied with Brazil's assurances and said Brazil may manage to increase its current share of Russian beef imports, now around 43 percent, as a result.

Source: Reuters