The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a cow in California was infected with mad cow disease.

USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford released a statement on the finding.

"As part of our targeted surveillance system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the nation's fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California," Clifford said. "The carcass of the animal is being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed."

Clifford noted that despite the report, the cow's meat did not enter the food chain and that food products are safe.

"It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health," he said. "Additionally, milk does not transmit BSE."

This is the fourth case of mad cow disease in the United States since it was discovered in December 2003.