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Positive BSE Case in Canada Shows Surveillance System is Working

Monday, January 3, 2005

Washington, D.C. - “The announcement by the Canadian government that a second case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow disease) has been detected in Canada should not impact the expanded beef and cattle trade with Canada announced last week,” said J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO of the American Meat Institute (AMI). “Beef trade with Canada should move forward because the measures taken by both the U.S. and Canada to ensure that beef is safe and wholesome, are working as planned.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed on Sunday that an eight year old dairy cow from Alberta has tested positive for BSE. No part of the animal entered the human food or animal feed systems. Last week, the USDA announced that it was lifting its 18 month ban on most Canadian cattle and beef imports. In announcing that decision, the USDA noted that, given the risk mitigation strategies against BSE in Canada, the detection of future cases of BSE in Canada should not affect trade.

“The fact that a second case of BSE has been found in Canada is proof that the Canadian BSE surveillance system is working. A second case was not entirely unexpected, given the fact that cattle which predate the feedban are still alive in both countries,” said Boyle. A ban on feeding ruminant protein to ruminants has been in place since 1997 in both the U.S. and Canada, and is but one the many firewalls put in place by both countries to ensure that BSE never reached the epidemic level in North America that it did in Europe.

Boyle pointed out that both the U.S. and Canada remove the Specified Risk Materials – the tissues that contain the infective BSE agent – from all cattle destined for human consumption. “With this strategy in place, food safety is ensured, whether you’re eating beef raised in Alberta, or Alabama,” noted Boyle.

Last week, AMI filed suit against the continued ban on importing Canadian cattle 30 months of age and older. AMI charged the continued enforcement of any ban was “arbitrary and capricious,” and that full trade should be restored.

For more information contact:
Dave Ray
Vice President, Public Affairs
Janet Riley
Sr. VP, Public Affairs

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