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Latest BSE case delays “negligible” risk status

The birthdate of the Alberta beef cow that’s become Canada’s 17th case of BSE will delay Canada’s shot at regaining its “negligible” risk status for the disease, Reuters reported Thursday.

The news service’s Winnipeg reporter Rod Nickel quoted Ted Haney, president of the Canada Beef Export Federation, as saying Canada can’t apply to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to upgrade its BSE risk status from “controlled” to “negligible” until at least 2015.

Specifically, among other conditions that must be met, the OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Code can allow “negligible” status to be restored to a country that’s had one or more indigenous cases of BSE, if “every indigenous case was born more than 11 years ago.”

Since Case 17 was born in February 2004 and the OIE’s review usually takes about a year, Canada now can’t reasonably expect to see a “negligible” risk rating from the OIE until 2016 at the earliest, Haney told Reuters.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the latest case Feb. 25 but did not publicly report it until this week, following a new policy of monthly updates on reportable livestock diseases.

CFIA has said in previous cases that such discoveries can be expected occasionally as Canada works to rid its cattle herd of the disease.

Canada’s “controlled risk” status from the OIE remains unaffected, allowing exports of beef and cattle from Canada as long as the country continues to meet specific requirements for BSE surveillance; bans on feeding of ruminant meat and bone meal to other ruminants; and destruction of BSE-infected animals and their birth herds or birth cohorts.

The small group of OIE member nations officially recognized as having “negligible” risk for BSE includes Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Singapore, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland.

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