Saudi Arabia is the latest Asian country to suspend beef imports from Brazilian. It is now also the biggest country to stop purchases after the South American country confirmed a case of atypical mad cow disease in 2010.
The decision follows Egypt’s earlier ban of beef from Parana state, where a cow that died two years ago had developed atypical BSE. However, Egypt will continue to import from other states.
Saudi is among the world’s 10 biggest importers from Brazil, which in turn is the largest beef exporter. Between January and October, the Gulf country imported 31,300 tonnes of meat.
Minerva, one of Latin America’s leaders in the production of beef and cattle downplayed Saudi’s decision by highlighting a move by the World Organisation for Animal Health to maintain Brazil as a country with insignificant risk of BSE
“This classification has been followed by important countries, blocks and consumers,” Minerva said in a statement, adding that sales to Saudi Arabia accounted for approximately just 2.5% of the company’s gross sales.
Prior to Saudi Arabia’s decision, only Japan, China and South Africa had halted imports of all Brazilian beef since Brazil announced earlier this month that a 13-year-old cow that died in 2010 in Parana had tested positive for the protein linked to the development of BSE.
The countries are all minor importers of Brazilian beef.
The cow, which was kept for breeding purposes, never developed BSE and died of other causes. But it tested positive for the causal agent for BSE, a protein called a prion, which can arise spontaneously in elderly cattle.