Mad-cow disease found in Alberta; cattlemen’s group lauds surveillance system

Discovery of mad-cow disease in Alberta should not harm the country’s export of beef

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

Discovery of mad-cow disease in Alberta should not harm the country’s export of beef, according to an industry representative.

Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed on Friday, Feb. 13, that a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in a single animal at an undisclosed farm in Alberta.

The CFIA said no part of the animal entered the food chain.

“As part of the investigation, the CFIA is seeking to confirm the age of the animal, its history and how it became infected,” the agency said.

“The investigation will focus in on the feed supplied to this animal during the first year of its life. The agency will also trace out all animals of equivalent risk. Equivalent risk animals will be ordered destroyed and tested for BSE.”

It is the first time since 2011 that BSE has been detected in a Canadian cattle herd.

“It shows us the surveillance system is working,” said Kevin Boon, general manager of Kamloops-based B.C. Cattlemen’s Association. “We were looking.”

Canada’s ranching industry was hard hit in 2003 with the discovery of BSE in beef herds. Since then, feeding practices have been reformed and Canada’s tracing and inspection systems have been improved.

Boon said discovery of the single animal this month shows countries importing Canadian beef that the system is vigilant and can find pathogens before they enter the food chain.

B.C. ranchers are benefiting from record-high cattle prices and a plunging Canadian dollar.