Case of BSE confirmed in beef cow in Alberta |

Case of BSE confirmed in beef cow in Alberta

Maria Tussing
Assistant Editor

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a beef cow from Alberta. No part of the animal’s carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems, according to a press release from the CFIA.

“The Government of Canada is committed to protecting human and animal health and takes the management of BSE very seriously. Immediately upon confirmation of this case, the CFIA launched an investigation and is working closely with provincial and industry partners.

BSE is a progressive, fatal neurological disease in cattle. Canada’s last confirmed BSE case was reported in 2011. This latest case was detected through the national BSE surveillance program, which continues to play an important role in Canada’s strategy to manage BSE,” the press release said.

“As part of the investigation, the CFIA is seeking to confirm the age of the animal, its history and how it became infected. The investigation will focus in on the feed supplied to this animal during the first year of its life. The Agency will also trace out all animals of equivalent risk. Equivalent risk animals will be ordered destroyed and tested for BSE.”

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has identified Canada as a “controlled BSE risk” country, so this case should not affect current exports of Canadian cattle or beef.

In a statement, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association executive director Jodie Anderson said “While the investigation is ongoing by CFIA, the bottom line for consumers remains the same: your beef is safe. As beef producers, our number-one priority has always been providing the safest beef in the world. Our livelihood depends on it, and that’s why we have worked with the U.S. government and top scientists for more than 25 years to build, maintain and expand the interlocking BSE safeguards that today are protecting our cattle as well our families.”

“According to standards established by the OIE, Canada and the US continue to aggressively monitor our cattle herds for BSE and this Alberta animal was tested and confirmed as a result of the Canadian government’s ongoing monitoring program,” Anderson continued. “It’s important to note that mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is not a marker for food safety and does not assure a safe beef supply, as some organizations will assert. The way we make sure we are receiving safe beef is by ensuring the countries we trade with have a fully compliant feed ban, a scientifically sound surveillance program and a processing program that removes central nervous system tissue from the food supply.

“We commend CFIA and animal health experts for effectively identifying and eliminating the potential risks associated with BSE and ensuring this animal did not enter the food or feed system.”

Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union president, takes the opposite view, saying in a press release that the case affirms the value of COOL. “Do you really want your lawmakers to repeal a law that tells you where your food comes from? In light of the confirmation of a disease with fatal implications in Canada, it is hard not to support a law that gives consumers basic information on where their food comes from,” Sombke said.