The diagnosis of BSE in a cow in northern Alberta, Canada’s largest beef province, has resulted in the USA closing its border to Canadian beef. Canada’s agricultural minister, Lyle Vanclief, said: ‘The herd has been quarantined. The animal did not go into the food chain.’

The case is believed to be the first case of the disease found in an animal born in North America. The only other case of BSE in Canada involved an animal imported from the UK in 1993.

The cow in this latest instance was slaughtered at a rendering plant on January 31 but the announcement was not made until after tests had been carried out.

Since the announcement there has been a drop in the value of the Canadian dollar.