Specified Risk Material - Requirements for Bovine Practitioners

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

In infected cattle, BSE concentrates in certain tissues 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.

Since July 12, 2007, SRM have also been banned from all animal feeds, pet foods and fertilizers. Particular requirements apply to anyone handling deadstock containing SRM, including Canadian veterinarians who handle bovines.

Note: Permit Requirements

In practical terms, all dead bovines containing SRM will require a permit issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to be transported and received.

SRM tissues or carcasses containing SRM submitted directly to a laboratory are exempt from this requirement.

In cattle under thirty months of age (UTM), including calves and uncertified, term fetuses, the distal ileum is defined as SRM. In cattle older than 30 months of age (OTM) SRM include the skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, tonsils, spinal cord, dorsal root ganglia and distal ileum.

UTM cow or calf dying at a veterinary clinic

If you remove the distal ileum, the remainder of the carcass can be moved from the clinic without federal regulatory control. The distal ileum must be stained and transported under the CFIA permit unless it is disposed of on the clinic's premises.

If the distal ileum is not removed, the entire carcass must be handled as SRM. A CFIA permit is required to transport the carcass from the clinic's premises, and the carcass must be marked with a visible stripe down the spine.

OTM cow or bull dying at a veterinary clinic

The entire carcass must be handled as SRM. A CFIA permit is required to transport the carcass from the clinic's premises. In addition, carcasses must be marked with a visible stripe down the spine before being moved.

Cattle dying on a client's premises

Veterinarians should advise clients of the applicable requirements. All dead cattle containing SRM can only be transported under the authority of a CFIA permit and with a visible stripe marked down the spine.

If you remove the distal ileum from a UTM animal as a service to your client, please provide a signed note stating that the remaining carcass is free of SRM. Similarly, if you are in attendance for the delivery of an aborted fetus or stillborn calf, please provide a signed note stating that the carcass is a fetus (not a calf). The CFIA will not impose SRM controls on certified carcasses.

Do not mark carcasses from which SRM has been removed. Where municipal and provincial requirements permit, producers may dispose of SRM on their own premises.

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