The US Department of Agriculture will soon transition to an ongoing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance program that corresponds to the extremely low prevalence of the disease in the US.

USDA announces new BSE surveillance program

"It's time that our surveillance efforts reflect what we now know is a very, very low level of BSE in the United States," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

The ongoing BSE surveillance program will sample approximately 40,000 animals each year. USDA will continue to collect samples from a variety of sites and from the cattle where the disease is most likely to be detected.

The new program will not only comply with science-based international guidelines from the World Animal Health organization, but will provide testing at a level ten times higher than the organization recommends.

USDA has an obligation to provide 30 days notice of the change to contractors who are performing the sampling and testing, so the earliest the new surveillance program would begin is late August.

An outline of the ongoing BSE surveillance plan is available