OTTAWA, ONTARIO – The Scientific Commission of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has advised delegates that Canada's application to change its status from a controlled-risk country for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to one of negligible risk fulfills necessary requirements. Canada has been recognized by the OIE as a controlled BSE-risk country since 2007.

The change in risk status would help secure and negotiate access for Canadian cattle and beef products to markets that require products to originate from negligible BSE-risk status countries. The recommendation by the Scientific Commission marks an important milestone for Canada.

“Today, beef producers can be pleased that Canada has taken an important step to being recognized as negligible risk for BSE,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Although we still need to await the final vote, I am optimistic that this will soon allow them to expand their markets for cattle and beef exports to the US and other foreign markets. Our government will continue to stand up for our hard-working beef producers who provide top-quality products.”

The last case of BSE in Canada was confirmed in 2015, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said the infection was feed related. The cow was born in 2009 — almost two years after Canada implemented an enhanced feed ban to block the spread of the disease. CFIA detected the case through Canada’s national BSE surveillance program.

One of the OIE criteria for Canada to be categorized as a negligible BSE-risk country is to demonstrate that infected domestic animals were born more than 11 years prior. The OIE also evaluated Canada’s veterinary services.

The Scientific Commission’s recommendation has been sent to OIE delegates who will officially vote on Canada’s application at the next World Assembly of OIE Delegates General Session at the end of May.