Canada remains a controlled BSE risk country

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) classifies the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risk status of the cattle population of a country on the basis of a risk assessment and other criteria. The cattle population of a country can be classified into three categories

  • negligible BSE risk
  • controlled BSE risk
  • or undetermined BSE risk

Since 2007, Canada has been recognized by the OIE as a controlled BSE risk country. The conditions for this category are similar to the conditions for a negligible BSE risk country, except that controlled risk countries with indigenous BSE cases must also demonstrate that they have an education and reporting program and an effective feed ban. Both negligible risk and controlled risk countries must also identify, track and prevent birth cohorts and feed cohorts of the known BSE-infected animal(s) from entering the food and feed chains or export trade.

In accordance with the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code, the detection of BSE cases will have no impact on Canada's current BSE risk status, provided

  1. the country continues to meet the requirements for controlled risk
  2. live cattle selected for export are identified by a permanent identification system, and
  3. the cattle selected for export are born after a feed ban was implemented

The requirements for controlled risk

In order to meet the requirements for controlled risk, a country must demonstrate compliance with the provisions of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code, especially as they apply in the following areas:

  • policies designed to protect animal and human health are based on an appropriate assessment of risk
  • BSE awareness, education and reporting programs have been implemented,
  • an appropriate feed ban is in place
  • there is diagnostic competency within the laboratory system, and
  • BSE surveillance has been conducted in accordance with the OIE's BSE guidelines

OIE recommends that countries importing products from controlled risk countries require:

  • ante- and post-mortem inspections
  • that meat come from cattle that were not subject to air-injection stunning or pithing, and
  • fresh meat and meat products not contain specified risk material (SRM) or mechanically separated meat from the skull and vertebral column from cattle older than 30 months.

Impact on Canada's application for OIE negligible risk status

One of the OIE criteria for Canada to be categorized as negligible BSE risk country is to demonstrate that infected domestic animals were born more than 11 years prior. Previously, the most recent birth date of a BSE case in Canada was August 23, 2004 (Case 18Footnote *). Now that the new case detected in February 2015 has confirmed the animal was born in March 2009, this will delay Canada's application as a negligible BSE risk country. Under the current OIE criteria, Canada will not be able to apply for negligible risk status until at least 11 years for the birth date of the most recently born case. However, Canada remains a controlled BSE risk country.

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