WASHINGTON – The North American Meat institute expressed support for Canadian beef following the recent confirmation of an Alberta beef cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) detected the new case through Canada's national BSE surveillance program. Canada's last confirmed BSE case was reported in 2011. Since the discovery, South Korea has temporarily banned imports of Canadian beef. Canada remains listed as a “controlled BSE risk” country with the World Organization for Animal Health, and that designation is not expected to change.

“Canada's announcement that it has detected a case of BSE in an Alberta cow and that the animal did not enter the food chain shows that their nation's surveillance system is working,” said Barry Carpenter, North American Meat Institute (NAMI) president and CEO. “Results from an investigation into this case will help continue to strengthen the disease firewalls that have served North America well. We remain confident in the safety of Canadian beef.”

Paul Mayers, vice president, Policy and Programs, CFIA, said the high levels of producer participation in the surveillance program underscored Canada's commitment to responsibly manage BSE.

“The government of Canada is committed to protecting human and animal health and takes the management of BSE very seriously,” Mayers said. “Immediately upon confirmation of this case, the CFIA launched an investigation and is working closely with provincial and industry partners. This investigation will follow the well-developed procedures we've employed in response to previous BSE cases.”

Mayers added that the detection of a small number of BSE cases "is not unexpected" in the context of the 30,000 samples CFIA takes annually.

“As has been our practice for CFIA investigations of BSE cases, the agency is seeking to confirm the age of the animal, its history and how it may have become infected,” he added. “We're also working to trace out all animals of equivalent risk such as the animals that may have been exposed to the same feed as the infected animal in the first year of its life. Equivalent risk animals will be ordered destroyed, and they will be tested for BSE.”