12th case of mad cow confirmed

The Associated Press

Japan has confirmed its 12th case of mad cow disease, an official said Monday.

It is the third case of the brain-wasting illness this year.

The 5-year-old dairy cow tested positive for the disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, on Friday at a slaughterhouse in Shisui, Kumamoto Prefecture, prefectural spokesman Toshinori Takano said.

More precise tests at a governmental infectious disease research institute confirmed the finding Monday, Takano said.

The animal’s meat and organs had not been released on the market, and its carcass will be incinerated, he said.

Japan’s first case of mad cow disease, in September 2001, was the first case outside of Europe, where the disease devastated cattle farms.

Within months of that case, the government banned the use of meat-and-bone meal — made from ruminant animal parts — in cattle feed, which authorities believe led to the outbreak.

The country’s most recent confirmed case was in March.

U.S. demand ‘difficult’

Japan finds it difficult to accept a U.S. demand for excluding cattle aged 24 months or younger from testing for mad cow disease, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Monday.

The U.S. demand is less stringent than a recommendation made by Japan’s Food Safety Commission that calls on the government to end the current blanket testing and exempt beef cattle aged 20 months or younger.

The top government spokesman told a news conference that Japan should take into account that the brain-wasting disease was detected in cows aged 21 months and 23 months in Japan.

Hosoda also said it is necessary to hold negotiations on the resumption of U.S. beef imports based on “objective and scientific” data.

Japan placed a ban on beef imports from the United States after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease was found last December and insisted that all beef cattle there be tested for the disease, as is the case in Japan.