In what could
be the second
discovery halted billions of dollars worth of American beef exports and raised
questions about the safety of the
Johanns said the new suspected case involved an older beef animal which was chosen for testing because it was a "downer" animal that could not walk when it arrived at the slaughterhouse.
The animal's carcass never entered the human food or livestock feed supply, he said.
"This animal was a downer animal and did not get into the food or feed chain. There just is no risk whatsoever," Johanns told reporters in a hastily called news conference on Friday evening.
The government refused to disclose any information about the suspect animal's origin or where it was slaughtered.
"It was getting up in age. It was a beef
breed," said John Clifford, chief veterinarian for the Animal and Plant Health
It is not
unusual to have conflicting test results for BSE, cattle experts said.
The USDA said
the suspect animal had tested positive for BSE in a rapid, preliminary test in
November. When it was retested with a more sophisticated technology, the animal
was found free of the disease.
Inspector General earlier this week asked department scientists to retest the
suspect animal, and two others, using yet a third kind of technology known as
the "western blot" test. That test showed the beef animal was infected
with the brain-wasting ailment, Johanns said.
officials said they would send the animal's brain tissue to an internationally
known laboratory in
not confirmed a case of BSE in the
going to require additional testing to determine if this is BSE or not."
the suspect animal comes at a time when USDA officials have pressed
believe this has any impact on our international trading partners," Johanns
At the same
time, the USDA is involved in a lawsuit to reopen the
On Thursday, Johanns held a public meeting in
industry officials say they are being forced to close plants and lay off workers
because they cannot obtain enough cattle to keep the plants operating
Cattlemen's Beef Association said it was not unusual to have conflicting test
results for BSE.