WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday followed Canada's lead in temporarily suspending imports of Brazilian beef gravy, corned beef, gelatins and other processed beef products as a precaution against "mad cow" disease and its deadly human variation.
The U.S. ban came less than a week after the Food and Drug Administration quarantined a small Texas feedlot for violating rules that forbid using feed containing ground-up bits of cattle.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that although there was no evidence of mad cow disease in Brazil, it was concerned that certain Brazilian beef products might have come into contact with beef from Europe, which has been hit with an outbreak of the brain-wasting disease.
"This decision is a temporary action pending the release of requested data to complete a bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk assessment," the USDA said in a statement, referring to the disease by its official name. The department said further action would be taken if needed to keep the disease out of the United States.
BSE, as the disease is also known, is believed to have spread from Britain when the bones, spinal cord and other remains of diseased cattle were ground up for use in livestock feed.
Nearly 90 people in Britain, France and Ireland have died of or been stricken with the human version.