The report is not exactly comforting on that Black Angus beef cow discovered with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) north of Edmonton, Alberta, last February. BSE is a progressive and fatal neurological disease in cattle. The first BSE, or “mad cow,” to turn up in Canada since 2011 was blamed Monday by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on a small amount of leftover contaminated feed. In its final report on the case, CFIA again assured the public that no part of the BSE-infected animal was allowed to enter the human food supply or the animal feed system. The February discovery did result in a few countries imposing temporary restrictions on the import of Canadian beef. The new report on the investigation states that the cow was born two years prior to the existing strict controls on animal feed to prevent BSE. A previous BSE case was found on the same farm in an animal born in 2004. “No significant events could be linked with this case, but the potential for the carry-over of a small amount of residual contaminated feed could not be discounted,” the CFIA report notes. The chances of finding other cattle infected with BSE that were born within one year of the February case “remain extremely low,” it states. It is “highly improbable” that the BSE was caused by contamination at either a slaughterhouse or a rendering facility, CFIA notes. Harpreet Kochhar, the agency’s chief veterinary officer, said that consumers and Canada’s trade partners should be reassured. “We are very much committed to protecting human and animal health and we are very much confident that our system for detection and managing BSE works very well,” he said. CFIA stated that the February case was detected through Canada’s BSE surveillance program. Canada expects to remain a “controlled BSE risk” country, as recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The United States is also a “controlled BSE risk” country. That means there is not only a program of surveillance, but that “risky” parts of animals are removed before being allowed to reach the food system.
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