Johannesburg - There is no trace of foot-and-mouth disease at a feedlot belonging to Karan Beef in Heidelberg, the company said on Monday.
"As part of our proactive and preventative approach we tested a significant number of cattle (in Gauteng) and no trace of the virus was found," said Karan Beef veterinarian Dirk Verwoerd.
"We bled the animals in question at the request (of) the state and found antibodies.... This could be from exposure weeks and even months ago," Verwoerd said.
The beef supplier put its feedlot in Heidelberg under quarantine as a precaution on March 18, following a recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Ingwavuma area in KwaZulu-Natal.
International trade in cloven-hoofed animals and their products from South Africa was suspended as a precaution, in accordance with international protocol.
Verwoerd said that from March 19, 94 animals sourced from the Blood River-Vryheid area, about 150km from the outbreak zone, were tested.
"We slaughtered them as a precaution and then moved to animals they had been in contact with, which was about 1 800 animals," he said.
The cows were all six to nine months old, an age with the highest mortality rate from the virus.
Verwoerd said the disease poses no risk to human consumption.
"There is no need to panic at all. That applies to consumers and the industry as a whole. Security of supply will also not be affected," he said.
Karan Beef owns about 30% of the market share in South Africa.
"With this virus we had to act immediately and do something, even if the virus was not present," Verwoerd said.
The company will conduct a final set of tests in mid-April to rule out all possibility of the virus.
Foot-and-mouth disease is caused by the picorna virus and is potentially fatal and highly infectious. It is a severe plague for animal farming and is passed on in cloven-hoofed animals like cattle, sheep, goats and deer.