Mad Cow Disease Confirmed in California

Officials say no meat from the diseased animal entered the human food supply

File this under "uh oh": a case of mad cow disease has been confirmed in California, found in a dairy cow, USDA officials say. This is the first case confirmed since 2006. 

Overall the fourth case of mad cow disease found in the U.S., it was found during one of the USDA's routine tests; each year, the USDA tests 40,000 cows for the disease. Officials are holding onto the carcass and will investigate the animal's birthplace and date of birth to prevent further cases; they insist the carcass meat never entered the food supply. Said John Clifford of the USDA in a statement, the carcass "was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health."

It might not seem big, but the effects on the beef industry since the 2003 mad cow disease finding are still being felt today. In 2003, Japan and China began restricting beef imports from the U.S., and caused huge losses to beef producers, Bloomberg reports. Shipments of beef from the U.S. plummeted 80 percent in the year after the find, and producers like Tyson lost more than $2 billion between 2004 and 2007. 

Already, cattle stocks have plummeted on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in light of the news. Analysts worry countries may start imposing temporary bans, but would be unlikely if the carcass never entered the human food supply.