Brazil temporarily halted beef exports to China this week after reporting an atypical case of mad cow disease. The ban was implemented Monday morning. Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry says the suspension is part of a bilateral health protocol signed by the two countries in 2015.
China is the largest beef importer by sales from Brazil, according to Reuters, as China purchased $1.5 billion of Brazilian beef last year, or 322,000 metric tons. The case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly referred to as mad cow disease, was reported last Friday in a 17-year-old cow in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s leading agricultural state. T
he case was considered “atypical” as the animal contracted the BSE protein spontaneously, rather than through the feed supply. Brazil expects the temporary ban of exports to China to be lifted quickly, as an Agriculture Ministry spokesperson points out that Brazil is still considered free of mad cow disease by the World Organization for Animal Health.