BEIRUT: Lebanon will not impose a blanket ban on Brazilian beef following a suspected case of atypical mad cow disease in one state there, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said.
Lebanon has already halted beef imports from the two Brazilian states where recent suspected cases of the illness were detected, the official added.
Imports from the state of Parana in Brazil were stopped last year and from Mata Grosso over five years ago, Elias Ibrahim, the director of animal resources at the ministry, told The Daily Star.
Ibrahim’s comments came after Saudi Arabia announced it would suspend imports of Brazilian beef over a suspected case of mad cow disease in the country.
Brazil last month said that the alleged case of BSE was traced to a single, 12-year-old grazing cow slaughtered on March 19 due to old age. It did not have any symptoms of the disease.
All animals that had contact with the cow were identified and isolated.
The incident follows a warning from the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was detected in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.
In 2012 and early 2013, almost 10 countries suspended their imports of Brazilian beef after a case of atypical mad cow disease was detected in an animal that died in 2010 in the southern state of Parana.
Ibrahim said that Lebanon had halted imports from Parana back in 2013 as a precaution and said the country adhered to the OIE codes.
He said that imports from Mata Grosso were banned over five years ago on account of warnings related to suspected cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the state that had not yet been lifted. But he said Lebanon did not plan to impose a blanket ban on Brazilian beef.
A risk assessment committee at the ministry is looking into the safety of Mata Grosso imports, he added.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 20, 2014, on page 4.