China has banned the import of British beef again, after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in the United Kingdom last month.
The ban was for cows less than 30 months old. The decision was deemed effective as of September 29, according to a statement from the General Administration of Customs of China.
And last month, the Animal and Plant Health Agency in the United Kingdom revealed a confirmed case of mad cow disease on a farm in Somerset, southwest England.
Barely three years after China resumed imports of British beef after previous restrictions that remained in place until 2018, Beijing reimposed a new ban.
Beijing imposed a ban in the 1990s during the outbreak of the disease known scientifically as bovine spongiform encephalitis.
When China lifted the ban on the import of British beef three years ago, the UK government estimated that the decision would lead to around £250 million in revenue for British producers in five years.
The decision to lift the ban came after years of inspections of farms and meat-producing plants and negotiations between officials in London and Beijing.
In response to the latest ban, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was working to reassure Chinese authorities that the detected case had been successfully handled, as well as agreed export standards were met.
UK Chief Veterinarian Christine Middlemis said: “We have some of the highest levels of biosecurity in the world, backed by robust disease control systems. Our products are safe and should not be traded off.”
Last September, the US announced the lifting of a decades-old ban on lamb imports from Britain. The United States has stopped importing lamb from Britain since 1989, after the first outbreak of mad cow disease.
Last year saw the United States resume importing beef from Britain for the first time in more than 20 years. Washington banned the import of British beef after the 1996 outbreak of mad cow disease.
In September, Brazil announced the suspension of its beef exports to China, after two cases of mad cow disease were detected. Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter, and China is the world’s largest importer of Brazilian beef.
Mad cow disease first appeared in the eighties in Britain, from which it spread to many countries in Europe and the world, causing a consumer crisis and another in the manufacture of beef products.
Mad cow disease spread as a result of farmers feeding livestock with feed containing the remains of dead animals that were infected.
The causative agent of mad cow disease mutated and infected humans with what is known as Croisfeldt-Jakob disease, which affects the brain and leads to death and is caused by eating infected beef.