"A suspected case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), detected in a five-year-old cow which died prematurely at a cattle farm in Ardennes, was confirmed on March 23 by the European Union reference laboratory," it said in a statement.
The case has been reported to the European Commission and the Paris-based veterinary watchdog, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), it said.
The ministry also sought to reassure consumers. "The detection of this case has no impact for the consumer," it said.
BSE is a brain-destroying disease among cattle that sparked a scare in the 1990s when it was found it could also be transmitted to humans who ate beef infected with the agent, a rogue protein called a prion.
The epidemic -- of which Britain was the epicentre -- was traced to the use of infected carcasses recycled for animal feed, prompting dozens of countries to strengthen veterinary controls.
The number of cases has plummeted, although isolated occurrences persist, according to a tally by the OIE.
In 2015, there were single cases in Canada, Ireland, Norway and Slovenia, as well as two cases in Britain, the OIE said on its website Thursday.