Case closed

by Erica Shaffer
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OTTAWA, Ontario – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has determined that a small amount of contaminated feed is the most likely cause of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy that came to light in February. The cow was born at a farm in Edmonton, Alberta, after Canada implemented an enhanced feed ban in 2007.

The Black Angus cow was euthanized, and never entered the animal feed or human food chain. But several countries, including Taiwan Peru, Indonesia, South Korea and Belarus, imposed temporary bans on beef produced in Canada following the finding. Canada remains listed as a “controlled BSE risk” country with the World Organization for Animal Health. The cow was Canada’s 19th case of BSE.

In its report, CFIA said the cow was born in March 2009, almost two years after the government implemented more strict controls on animal feed. It also was the second BSE case to be born on the same farm.

“While the second case (BSE case #19) was born 20 months after the enhanced feed ban was implemented, it is possible that small amounts of residual contaminated feed associated with the previous case could have remained on the farm,” CFIA noted. “It is important to note that while the previous case (#17) most likely became infected in 2004, it did not arise as a BSE case until February 2010, almost a year after the birth of the case under consideration.”

The agency also ruled out contamination at either a slaughterhouse or rendering facility.

CFIA noted that even though the infected cow was born almost two years after the enhanced feed ban was established, the agency was able to confirm that the overall risk of finding other BSE-infected animals remains “extremely low.”

“The impact of this case on the prevalence estimates for the 2009 and subsequent birth cohorts is inconsequential,” the agency concluded. CFIA’s full report is available online.

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