Jeremy Hobson: Two big South Korean retailers have pulled American beef off their shelves after a dairy cow here in California was found to have mad cow disease or BSE. It's the first case in the U.S. since 2006 -- but other than those Korean stores, the rest of the world is taking the news in stride, announcing that U.S. beef is still safe to eat.
Alistair Driver: Good morning.
Hobson: Well it looks like the EU is not going to stop importing beef from the U.S. because of this; same reaction in Japan. Why do you think people are taking this case of mad cow disease so calmly?
Driver: I think it's because it is an isolated case. At the peak of this crisis, there were over 30,000 cases a year alone in the U.K. Since then, we've seen a gradual decline due to some tight controls, particularly on animal feed. So the big question is: where did this case come from? And that's something that I'm sure USDA are very keen to investigate.
Hobson: When something like this comes up, I imagine it does scare some consumers away from beef, even if the countries that they live in aren't going to stop importing it all together.
Driver: Yes, that's going to be the case in the U.S. where an individual case of BSE is news. The U.K. and Europe has really got used to it, and it understands the measures that are being taken to protect consumers. The bigger problem will be the U.S. consumers, who really haven't seen BSE close up -- they've only seen the big problem in Europe over the last 20 years. And it's the job of the authorities now to assuage any fears of the U.S. meat buyer.
Driver: Pleasure. Thank you.