Ireland is set to become the first European country to export beef to the United States since a 1997 ban provoked by an outbreak of mad cow disease. From the New York Times:
The United States had agreed to lift the ban last year, and Ireland is the first European country since then to have met the requirements ensuring its beef was safe. Although any Irish imports might represent only a tiny fraction of American meat sales, Ireland might be likely to find a market among buyers seeking beef raised in pastures and free from artificial growth hormones.
More than 200 people worldwide are believed to have died as a result of mad cow disease, which likely originated in the United Kingdom and became a major problem in the 1990s. Disturbingly, the disease is thought to have to have been spread by something called meat-and-bone meal—a type of feed that's made from slaughterhouse offal. In other words, cows were sometimes fed the remnants of other cows, a practice that is now widely banned.