Specified Risk Material - Requirements for Cattle Auction Markets

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Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, is spread when cattle consume feed products contaminated with certain proteins from infected animals.

In infected cattle, BSE concentrates in certain tissues, collectively known as specified risk material (SRM). For public health protection, these tissues are removed from all cattle slaughtered for human consumption. To prevent BSE spread among cattle, the Government of Canada banned most proteins, including SRM, from cattle feed in 1997.

On July 12, 2007, enhanced animal health safeguards came into effect to extend the removal of SRM to all animal feed, pet food and fertilizer. SRM must be handled, transported and disposed of under a permit issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). This permit control system is intended to ensure that SRM is monitored and does not enter the animal feed system.

What are SRM?

SRM are defined as:

  • the skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia (nerves attached to the brain), eyes, tonsils, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (nerves attached to the spinal cord) of cattle aged 30 months or older; and
  • the distal ileum (portion of the small intestine) of cattle of all ages.

Requirements for cattle auction markets

A CFIA SRM permit is required to remove cattle carcasses from an auction market premises. This rule applies to all bovine deadstock - including animals which die en route to an auction market and those which die at an auction market - that is transported back to the premises of origin, or to an off-site disposal facility.

Bovine deadstock that is disposed of on the premises of an auction market is not subject to CFIA permitting requirements; however, disposal methods must comply with provincial and municipal standards and requirements.

Time-sensitive SRM permits

Auction market staff should ensure that the person removing the bovine carcass from the premises has a valid CFIA SRM permit to do so. If the situation is time-sensitive and the transporter does not yet have a permit, he/she should call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 and request an emergency SRM permit.

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