UK & World News
Mad Cow Disease Discovered In California
A case of mad cow disease has been discovered the US, leading two major South Korean retailers to suspend sales of the country's beef.
The disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was discovered in a dairy cow in central California and is the first new case in the country since 2006.
Two of South Korea's largest supermarket chains, Home Plus and Lotte Mart, said they had temporarily halted selling beef from the US.
"We stopped sales from today," a Lotte Mart spokesman said. "Not that there were any quality issues in the meat but because consumers were worried."
US health authorities are battling to contain fallout from the discovery in an attempt to avoid disruptions to the global food trade which have cost billions of dollars in previous cases.
They stressed the outbreak was contained and no contaminated meat had entered the food chain.
The infected cow "at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health", the Department of Agriculture's chief veterinary officer said.
He suggested the California cow had an unusual case of BSE caused by a random mutation in the animal, not infected cattle feed.
South Korea, so far the only country to suspend sales in reaction to this case, also imposed a ban on US beef in 2003 along with China and other countries because of mad cow concerns.
South Korea is the world's fourth-largest importer of US beef, having bought 107,000 tonnes of the meat worth $563m (£348m) last year.
BSE is fatal to cows and can cause brain disease in humans who eat contaminated beef.
More than 200 people around the world are suspected to have died from the human variant of the disease since BSE was discovered in Britain in 1986.