BSE Case Confirmed in Canada
The Canadian Minister of Agriculture announced today that it has confirmed a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in one cow from one herd in Alberta, Canada. This cow was part of a 150-animal herd, reports the National Cattlemens Beef Association (NCBA). The remaining 149 animals have been quarantined.
The United States has suspended beef and cattle trade with Canada. During a press conference with Canadian government officials, it was disclosed that the 8-year-old cow diagnosed with BSE was slaughtered on Jan. 31. The animal had pneumonia, so the carcass was condemned and did not go into human food supply. It did not show clinical symptoms of BSE, so it was a lower priority for testing. Canada conducted tests on the head of the animal on Friday, and final results with the BSE diagnosis from UK tests were received this morning.
In a teleconference held this afternoon for media, NCBAs Terry Stokes reiterated that the United States has an aggressive, triple-firewall system that has prevented the introduction and spread of BSE in the United States. It consists of:
1. An Import ban. Beginning in 1989, imports of live animals and beef have been banned from any country known to have BSE.
2. Surveillance. In 1990, the United States began a surveillance program focusing on animals with the highest risk of neurological disease. In fiscal year 2002, the USDA tested 19,990 cattle for BSE, using a targeted surveillance approach designed to test the highest risk animals, including downer animals (animals that are nonambulatory at slaughter), animals that die on the farm, older animals and animals exhibiting signs of neurological distress. Samples are shipped to a federal lab overnight. The average turnaround time for the test is eight days. This process has not yielded any positive samples in the United States.
3. Feed ban. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of feed supplements containing ruminant byproducts such as meat and bone meal from cattle and other animals.
According to NCBA, the USDA has taken swift action to stop trade with Canada until further investigation, complying with existing BSE regulations.
USDA Release No. 0166.03
May 20, 2003
Statement by Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman
Regarding Canadas Announcement of BSE Investigation
"I have spoken with Canadas Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister, Lyle Vanclief, a short time ago about Canadas investigation and feel that all appropriate measures are being taken in what appears to be an isolated case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Information suggests that risk to human health and the possibility of transmission to animals in the United States is very low.
"USDA is placing Canada under its BSE restriction guidelines and will not accept any ruminants or ruminant products from Canada pending further investigation. We are dispatching a technical team to Canada to assist in the investigation and will provide more detailed information as it becomes available."
"The United States remains diligent in its BSE surveillance and prevention efforts. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibited the use of most mammalian protein in the manufacture of animal feed intended for cows and other ruminants to stop the way the disease is thought to spread.
"Since 1989, the U.S. government has taken a series of preventive actions to protect against this animal disease. This includes USDA prohibitions on the import of live ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats and most ruminant products from countries that have or are considered to be at risk for having BSE.
"In fiscal year 2002, USDA tested 19,990 cattle for BSE using a targeted surveillance approach designed to test the highest risk animals, including downer animals (animals that are nonambulatory at slaughter), animals that die on the farm, older animals and animals exhibiting signs of neurological distress."
Points of Interest
- A multi-year risk analysis conducted by Harvard University in 2001 concluded: "
the U.S. is highly resistant to any introduction of BSE or a similar disease. BSE is extremely unlikely to become established in the U.S."
- BSE is not contagious. It does not spread from animal to animal. It is believed to spread through contaminated meat and bone meal. The feeding of meat and bone meal was banned in the United States in 1997.
- BSE is found in central nervous system (CNS) tissue, such as the spinal cord and brain, and is not found in the meat.
- All cattle that enter the United States from Canada are identified. The USDA is determining appropriate actions.
- In 2002 imports of Canadian beef to the United States were 1.090 billion pounds, which is 4% of U.S. beef production.
- In the first quarter of 2003, 271 million pounds of Canadian beef was imported into the United States.
- In 2002, 1.075 million head of Canadian slaughter steers, heifers, cows and bulls were imported into the United States This is 3% of total U.S. cattle harvest. From Jan. 1 to May 3, 2003, 337,583 Canadian slaughter steers, heifers, cows and bulls were imported into the United States, also constituting 3% of total U.S. harvest.
- Of the Canadian slaughter cattle imported into the United States in 2002, 319,372 were beef cows, dairy cows and bulls (majority were cows). This is 5% of U.S. beef cow, dairy cow and bull slaughter. From Jan. 1 to May 3, 2003, 94,337 slaughter beef cows, dairy cows and bulls were imported into the United States from Canada.
Source: National Cattlemens Beef Association