Testing at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg has confirmed bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a cow from British Columbia.
This finding does not affect the safety of Canadian beef. Tissues in which BSE is known to concentrate in infected animals are removed from all cattle slaughtered in Canada for domestic and international human consumption. No part of this animal entered the human food or animal feed systems.
Preliminary investigations conducted prior to receiving final results identified the animal’s exact date of birth and birth farm two critical elements required to trace other animals of interest, as defined by the World Organization for Animal Health. With the confirmed positive results and this information already in hand, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
CFIA has immediately undertaken the animal component of its investigation on a priority basis.
The CFIA is also conducting a thorough examination of potential sources of infection. Investigators will pay particular attention to the feed to which the animal may have been exposed early in its life, when cattle are most susceptible to BSE. The CFIA is collecting records of feed purchased by and used on the animal’s birth farm. As in previous investigations, the CFIA will also fully consider all other scientific pathways in an attempt to definitively determine how the animal became infected.
This animal, a six-year-old dairy cow, developed BSE after the implementation of Canada’s feed ban. Similar situations are common to almost all BSE-affected countries that have introduced feed controls.
Although the design, implementation and compliance of Canada’s feed ban have been rigorously assessed by a number of countries over the past several years, and have been described as robust and effectively enforced, the Government is committed to continuously making improvements where possible. An enhanced feed ban would accelerate the eradication of BSE in Canada. Accordingly, the CFIA has published proposed regulatory amendments, and following extensive consultations, is now in the process of finalizing their content.
The feed ban and national surveillance program which identified this animal, contribute to Canada's interlocking BSE controls. While the feed ban continues to limit the spread of BSE, Canada's national surveillance program effectively monitors the health of the Canadian cattle herd. The national surveillance program, which targets cattle most at risk of having BSE, has tested more than 100,000 such animals since 2003. The detection of only five animals within this high-risk population over the past three years and the age of the animals detected supports the conclusion that the level of BSE in Canada is very low and declining.
The strong participation of producers to facilitate the detection of any suspect cases at the farm level, as demonstrated once again by this most recent finding, and the close collaboration between the Provinces and Federal Government in the surveillance effort demonstrates the shared commitment which exists to protect animal and human health in Canada.
In keeping with its ongoing practice, the CFIA will post to its website updated information as it becomes available.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency