Brazil may have kept mad cow disease secret

Brazil became the 26th country to report an incident of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, last week in a cow that died two years ago.

The world's biggest beef exporting country, Brazil recently submitted a notification to the World Organization for Animal Health reporting that a cow died in December 2010 and BSE was suspected. The first test came back negative, but the long delayed second test did not occur until June. The second test came back positive for BSE, Food Safety News reports.

Since that time, an OIE reference lab in the United Kingdom confirmed the positive BSE test result.

Japan announced that it would ban beef from Brazil starting on Saturday. The United States has yet to react to the positive test for mad cow disease.

"The two year delay in Brazil's disease notification is a symptom of the failure of the OIE's global system that erroneously assumes foreign countries, particularly developing countries, have the same means, commitment and capabilities as the United States to control and eradicate diseases," Max Thornsberry, the chairman of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund USA's Animal Health Committee, said, according to Food Safety News.

Thornsberry said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is foolish to rely on foreign countries and the OIE to protect the U.S. from unsafe imports.

Brazil's agricultural minister claimed the cow did not have BSE, just the protein believed to cause the disease, Food Safety News reports.