CFIA Investigation Unveils Birthdate of Alberta BSE Case


February 18, 2015 — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has determined the animal confirmed positive in a recent BSE case in Alberta was born in March of 2009.

“We were also able to confirm the location of the birth farm yesterday evening,” said Paul Mayers, Vice President, Policy and Program at the CFIA, in a conference call with media Wednesday afternoon. “We can also confirm that both the birth and index farm are located in Northern Alberta, near Edmonton.”

Though officials did divulge that the animal died on a farm in Spruce Grove, a more definitive location of the birth farm was not given.

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“We are in an active investigation and in order not to disrupt that active investigation, we won’t at this stage be communicating with respect to specificity on municipality,” said Mayers. “It would be our intent, in the interest in transparency, to share information in more detail once we are at that appropriate stage of the investigation.”

Both farms are currently under quarantine.

Enhanced Feed Ban

Frosty cattle morning
(Stock Image)

Canada’s enhanced feed ban came into effect in 2007, 21 months before the aforementioned animal was born.

“This situation is not unique to Canada. Indeed, in many of the countries who have implemented feed restrictions in their managment of BSE, they have experienced a small number of cases of animals born after that ban,” said Mayers. “Certainly, we see that the enhanced feed ban served its purpose to intercept and minimize the potential for the recycling of infection in Canada’s cattle population.”

The enhanced feed ban makes it illegal to feed specified risk materials to cattle in Canada.

BSE Risk Status

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) currently recognizes Canada as maintaining a “controlled risk” BSE status. Under that designation, a country must have fewer than 12 cases per year and a minimum surveillance target of 30 000 tests to exhibit that.

Though the most recent case of BSE will not change Canada’s current status, it will postpone the goal of “negligible risk” BSE status, which stipulates that the latest affected animal can not have been born in the last 11 years.

Trade Restrictions

On February 14, South Korea announced it would suspend imports of Canadian beef, pending further information. Today, Indonesia notified Canada of the suspension of bone meal imports.

“But I would note in September 2011, following the detection of a case of BSE in Canada, the Indonesians did a subsequent suspension and 13 days later, after we provided them all the information that was required, the market was re-engaged again. So this is very much what we consider business as usual,” said Fred Gorrell, acting ADM for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s marketing service branch.

Next Steps

The CFIA’s investigation is ongoing. The agency will now look to identify potential feed sources and other animals that may have been exposed.

The province of Alberta reported a non-negative BSE test to the CFIA on February 7. On February 11, the CFIA confirmed BSE in one beef cow in the province. No part of the animal entered the food chain.

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