Following a suspected case of atypical mad cow disease, Brazilian authorities confirmed a halt to exporting beef to China and demanded an investigation into the situation, AFP has reported.
According to the agriculture ministry, beef exports will remain on hold until Chinese authorities evaluate details of the incident.
Brazil is considered the world’s largest beef and poultry exporter.
The disease was identified by Brazilian authorities as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, and it had shown up in a "spontaneous and sporadic manner and was not linked to the intake of contaminated food."
Brazil’s total beef exports to China reached $442.3 million during of the first four months of this year.
The current export halt is part of a protocol agreed by Brazil and China. However, the World Organization for Animal Health has not changed Brazil’s status and it considers the overall risk of the disease in Brazil’s livestock not worrying, according to the ministry.
The appearance of the first cases of mad cow disease in 1986 in Britain caused a public health scare that lasted several years.
In 1996, it became clear the disease can be transmitted to humans in the form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.