Alberta Beef Industry Conference: CFIA Update on BSE Case, CCA Response

This year's Alberta Beef Industry Conference was held Feb 18-20 in Red Deer.
The Alberta Beef Industry Conference was held Feb 18-20 in Red Deer.

Delegates of the Alberta Beef Industry Conference heard from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) on the latest case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) on February 20, 2015. The representatives gave an update on the case, and provided insight into the measures Canada is taking to reduce disease incidence.

“The way that you control BSE in a country is through a sweep of measures,” said Gerald Hauer, chief provincial veterinarian. “And these measures include — but not limited to — things like import restrictions, making the disease reportable, removing SRM (or specified risk material) from the slaughter facilities and disposing of it properly, feed bans…, disease investigations when we do have a case, and traceability systems…”

Hauer added that the importance of surveillance is that it measures the effectiveness of efforts to control the disease.

The update from CFIA and AARD at Alberta Beef Industry Conference, February 20, 2015. Dave Solverson, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association was present through much of the conference. When asked how he responds to those advocating the “shoot, shovel and shut up” philosophy, he talked about the importance of science in trade.

Our interview with Dave Solverson, CCA president. February 19, 2015

“Again, as long as we are going to be needing to export 40% to 50% of our production, we need to work in a rules-based, trade-based, [science-based] economy. And these are the agreements we came to to get our controlled risk status. So, even though it’s enticing to just cover it up, we should continue to test. And, you know, I think it’s reassuring… We’re on our way to eradication.”

Related Editorial:It’s Time to Bury the Shoot, Shovel and Shut Up Mentality

Thus far, the CFIA has identified and quarantined the carcass of the animal confirmed to have BSE. It was born in March 2009.  They are now investigating animals of equivalent risk, including the birth cohort, the progeny of the confirmed animal and the feed cohort. In addition, the CFIA will investigate the animal itself, finding its mother, sire, progeny and any indicators as to how it got sick.

Prior to the conference, South Korea and Indonesia had announced temporary trade restrictions to Canadian beef and non-edible by-products for non-ruminant consumption, respectively. Since then, Peru, Belarus and Taiwan have also imposed temporary trade restrictions on beef and beef products.

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