Canada Alters BSE Surveillance Program

It has been more than nine years since the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada and although confirmed cases both in Canada and globally continue to decline, BSE surveillance remains important to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the country’s cattle industry.

As more foreign markets open up for Canadian beef, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says it is critical for the industry to be vigilant and continue to participate in BSE surveillance. To encourage a much higher level of participation, CFIA has made changes this year to the Canada and Alberta BSE Surveillance Program (CABSESP).

Starting November 1, 2012, the CABSESP will once again be accepting cattle in Alberta that are over 30 months of age without an upper age limit that are down, diseased, dying, or deceased. The previous restriction of a 30-day possession has also been eliminated. As such, cattle producers can now submit their animals for testing as long as they are over thirty months and fall into any of the high-risk categories. All other eligible criteria for the high-risk categories as well as the $75 reimbursement to producers to have an animal assessed are unchanged. Cattle producers with eligible animals are encouraged to call a licensed veterinarian certified by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development to assess the animals at no cost.

It is expected these new changes will result in more cattle being tested for BSE in Alberta. The CFIA has reported that national BSE surveillance numbers have dropped in recent years. In 2005, more than 57,000 samples were collected from cattle with only a slight decrease the following year. By 2008, the numbers had declined to about 48,000 samples. The downward trend appears to be continuing this year. By the end of September, there were 19,943 samples collected compared with 27,429 collected during the same period in 2011.

December 2012 RENDER | back