Canadians welcome BSE testing

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Cattle Rack Rancher

Well-known member
Mar 10, 2004
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Manitoba, Canada
From the Western Producer

BSE tests crucial to risk status: CFIA
this document web posted: Wednesday, October 13, 2004 20041014p75

By Donna Rehirchuk
Saskatoon newsroom

If all 38,000 animals that Canada plans to sample for BSE by the end of 2005 were to test negative, it would put Canada into a low-risk category.

A BSE rate of less than one case per million adult animals matches guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health, also known as the OIE, for a low-risk country. But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said it is reasonable to expect increased surveillance will lead to the discovery of more BSE cases.

"We wouldn't be surprised if we found more cases," said Darcy Undseth, CFIA veterinary disease control specialist.

"Most countries that have detected indigenous BSE, when they've increased surveillance, have found more. It still doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. It means that we should and if we have a few, let's identify them and show we have a low prevalence and we can still argue that the border should be open for significantly more trade."

According to OIE guidelines, a country may have one positive BSE for every one million adult animals in the previous 12 months and still retain status as low risk.

"If we have six million adult animals, that's a fair estimate right now. That means in the last 12 months we just had the December case and so we could have five more and still argue that we are a minimum risk country."

Undseth said while there are no guarantees that finding more BSE won't generate negative reaction from trade partners, not reaching the targets for sampling would be more harmful.

"These are very conservative surveillance targets and if we can't meet them, it would weaken our discussion with international trade partners that current import plans be lifted," he said.

Without surveillance data, it is difficult to refute assumptions that trade partners may have regarding BSE levels in Canada. Domestically, failing to meet surveillance targets could diminish consumer confidence, said Undseth.

"They've stuck by us really well through this whole BSE crisis. But that's not an unshakable faith."

Undseth said surveillance is the foundation for early detection of the disease and a way to validate to consumers that Canada has a low prevalence.

"We are trying to show people that everything we've done to reduce the risk over the last 15 years, that Canada likely has very few BSE animals alive and so we really are a minimal risk country, and therefore we have food safety and animal health safety and therefore, more of our market should be open.

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