The ban began immediately, the agriculture ministry of Brazil, the world’s largest exporter, announced, adding that China will decide when to lift the temporary ban.
The ministry said that the two cases, found in states of Minas Gerais and Mato Gross, were “atypical” since the disease first appeared “spontaneously and sporadically, unrelated to the ingestion of contaminated food”.
Commonly referred to as mad cow disease, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a progressive neurologic disease in cows which get infected after eating feed contaminated with parts of another cow that was sick from BSE.
The ministry said they were the fourth and fifth cases of “atypical” mad cow disease in 23 years and there was “no risk to human and animal health”.
It said the two cases were found during inspection before the animals were slaughtered.
“Brazil has never recorded a classic case of BSE,” said the ministry, adding that it has officially notified the World Organization for animal health.
World animal health authorities do not include occurrence of atypical cases in BSE in assessing a country’s risk status, the agriculture ministry added.
“In this way, Brazil maintains its classification as a country with an insignificant risk for the disease, not justifying any impact on the trade of animals and their products and by-products,” it added.
Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, generating sales of $2.4bn between January to July this year, marking an increase of 13.8 per cent, according to the Brazilian Meat Exporting Industry Association.
Meanwhile, China is the world’s largest importer, marking an 18 per cent increase year-on-year.
In June 2019, Brazil temporarily halted its exports of cattle to China after a BSE case was detected in a 17-year-old cow.
The disease was first detected in the UK in the 1980s, causing alarm in the beef industry after its cases spread in many countries in Europe and elsewhere. A total of 177 people died in the UK in the 80s and 1990s after contracting the human variant of the disease, known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.