This briefing took place in Ottawa on February 27, 2015.
Paul Mayers, Vice President – Policy and Programs, Canadian Food Inspection Agency:
We would like to provide an update on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s investigation into Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, in a cow from Alberta.
I would like to remind you that no part of the animal’s carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems. Canada’s suite of internationally recognized safeguards effectively protects the safety of food and animal feed. There’s no risk to food safety.
Our in-depth investigation is continuing and includes identification of animals who may have been exposed to the same feed. The Agency has identified the birth cohort for this 2015 case. We’re actively tracing these animals to determine their location and status.
The World Organization for Animal Health, the OIE, guidance establishes the birth cohorts as the animals born in the same year as the infected animal, along with animals born in the year before and after the infected animal. The CFIA is following this guidance.
Over the course of our investigation, we have confirmed that incidentally, this 2015 case was born on the same farm as the previous BSE case detected in 2010 and born in 2004. Out of an abundance of caution, we are including in our investigation animals that were born on this farm in the years between these two cases and that may have been potentially exposed to the same feed.
Moving forward, our focus is on tracing and determining the status of these animals. The investigation into potential sources of contamination of the feed will continue. As you can see, the scope of the investigation is broad. As well, the nature of this investigation is complex and requires us to be very thorough. It will take time.
We will continue to provide regular updates as the investigation continues. We continue to inform and reassure Canadians and our trading partners that Canadian beef remains safe.
Thanks to Canada’s BSE controls, which include the enhanced feed ban, comprehensive surveillance programs and the removal and disposal of specified risk material, BSE cases are extremely rare in Canada. This has been the first case in four years. Canada continues to be officially recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health as a controlled BSE risk country.
We were informed this morning that China has imposed temporary trade restrictions on Canadian beef and beef products. We continue to work with our trading partners to share information and respond to questions they may have. We have and will continue to share information on the investigation with industry trading partners and other stakeholders. The CFIA remains committed to protecting animal health and takes BSE very seriously. All necessary resources have been directed towards managing this situation and investigation.
In closing, I encourage you to visit our website at inspection.gc.ca for details about this current investigation and more information about how Canada takes action when responding to the disease.