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May 27, 2021 Checking in with ABP

Canada recognized with negligible risk status for BSE

Canada has reason to celebrate this week, as the Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) announced the country’s move to negligible risk status for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) on Thursday.

“Obtaining the “negligible risk” status from the OIE confirms that Canada’s beef production system is sound, safe and respected,” said Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau. “This will allow our beef and other cattle producers to expand their export markets and to develop their businesses.”

“Producers across this province should welcome this news,” said Melanie Wowk, Chair of Alberta Beef Producers (ABP). “We have been waiting 18 years to be deemed negligible risk status. This will open up export markets and reduce processing costs, so it is a win for the entire industry. ABP, along with the CCA, kept our lobbying efforts focused on obtaining this status, and as an Alberta beef producer I am ecstatic about the news.”

The update from controlled risk to negligible risk status comes as a result of:’

  1. Demonstrated compliance with the provisions of the OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code, through: policies, BSE awareness and reporting programs, appropriate feed bans, diagnostic competency, and surveillance in accordance to OIE guidelines.
  2. Moving past the 11-year mark since the birth of our last domestic BSE case (Case 19 – born March 25, 2009).
  3. An application with evidence to support compliance, and that submission moving through the Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases, OIE member countries, and ultimately the International Committee.

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) worked closely with the Government of Canada to see this application through, and will continue to work on the BSE file by focusing on the removal of remaining BSE-era market access restrictions. Additionally, CCA will work on aligning packing house requirements with international recommendations.

“The recognition of official disease status plays a key role in the livestock economy of countries as it contributes to facilitate regional and international trade of animals and animal products, notably in the context of negotiations according to the SPS Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO).” – Organisation for Animal Health

“We thank everyone involved in helping us attain this status including the Government of Canada, veterinarians across Canada and Canadian farmers and ranchers. We also thank Canadian consumers who supported Canada’s beef industry during the hardest times of BSE when Canadian beef couldn’t be exported,” said Bob Lowe, CCA President.

In order to maintain negligible risk status, Canada must continue its efforts in complying with the Terrestrial Animal Health Code, including meeting minimum surveillance requirements. In 2020, Canada tested 22,280 samples.

Negligible risk status puts Canada at the lowest level of risk for BSE, alongside 51 other countries including the United States, which attained its status in 2013, and Ireland, which also attained its updated status Thursday.

Feature photo: Government of Alberta

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