EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada, July 18, 2003 (ENS):
Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Lyle Vanclief and
Health Minister Anne McLellan today announced a new
measure to enhance food safety controls for bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.
The discovery of a single cow infected with the fatal
disease on an Alberta farm in May, has crippled the
Canadian beef industry and halted all sales of Canadian
beef to the United States.
The Canadian beef industry usually sells C$30 billion
worth of beef to the United States every year. Due to
the U.S. ban on import of Canadian beef, production
is down more than 50 percent in Canada.
This new measure requires that specified risk materials,
brain and spinal cord tissue, be removed at slaughter
from carcasses of cattle older than 30 months. These
tissues in BSE infected cattle contain the agent that
may transmit the disease. Scientific research has shown
that these tissues, in cattle younger than 30 months,
do not contain the infective agent.
The Government of Canada intends to enact regulations
by July 24 that will include a full definition of specified
"Today's announcement reflects the government
of Canada's clear commitment to the health and safety
of Canadians," said McLellan. "Canada's food
supply is among the safest in the world and this measure
will further protect human health."
"We are taking steps to implement this important
measure as soon as possible," said Vanclief. "By
removing specified risk material at slaughter we are
making a very safe system even safer. It also further
demonstrates to our trading partners that Canada remains
a most reliable and responsible supplier of safe beef
and beef products."
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman today stopped
short of lifting the ban on importation of Canadian
beef. "We appreciate that Canada is moving quickly
to address these issues," she said. "We commend
the Canadian government for its thorough investigation
of the situation as well as its willingness to have
an international team of experts review the progress."
“The United States continues to have a very strong
commitment to ensuring that the U.S. beef supply is
safe. We look forward to the continued coordination
among the United States, Canada and our other trading
partners to address the various and complex issues regarding
the single BSE case,” Veneman said.
The Canadian ministers said the new policy takes into
account current science and the recommendations of the
international team that examined the investigation into
Canada's case of BSE.
While BSE is a cattle disease, the human disease called
variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (vCJD) has been associated
with the consumption of products derived from BSE infected
Cattle tissues identified as specified risk materials
are not generally consumed as food. However, during
processing, these tissues could be unintentionally included
in meat products destined for human consumption.
The international team's report, released June 26,
praised the thoroughness and quality of the work done
by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. As a precautionary
measure, the team recommended that Canada eliminate
specified risk materials from products destined for
Specified risk materials are tissues that, in BSE-infected
cattle, contain the agent that may transmit the disease.
In diseased animals, the infective agent is concentrated
in certain tissues.
The measures announced today will require the removal
of such materials as the brain, and spinal cord from
carcasses of cattle older than 30 months. Scientific
research has shown that these tissues, in cattle younger
than 30 months, do not contain the infective agent.
A portion of the small intestine will be removed from
carcasses of all cattle.
The government of Canada will work closely with provincial
and territorial governments and industry to ensure nationwide
implementation and enforcement.
Both ministers said consultations with the provinces,
territories, industry, and trading partners will continue
on other measures, such as surveillance and reviewing
controls on animal feed, and that approaches to these
additional measures will be decided upon in the near
The Canadian Cattlemen's Association said in Calgary
that it welcomes the new measures to enhance Canada's
"already stringent food safety precautions"
related to BSE.
"While these new measures will add some cost to
the production of beef in Canada, we recognize that
the diagnosis of BSE in a single cow in Canada puts
us in a new situation where measures such as these may
be necessary to satisfy our customers," the cattlemen
said. "The North American beef industry is an integrated
industry and we trust that our trading partners within
North America are being consulted and will recognize
the value to their industries of adopting similar measures."
"Canadian beef cattle producers are grateful for
and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we have
received from our fellow Canadians," the cattlemen
said. "Our efforts remain focused on re-opening
our export markets' borders to safe, wholesome and nutritious
In a move aimed at supporting the Canadian beef industry,
Costco Wholesale today announced the arrival of medium
ground beef in all of its Quebec locations priced to
sell at $1 a pound ($2.20 per kilogram) while quantities
Canada's beef industry has been suffering from the
current U.S. ban on the importation of Canadian beef.
"We feel that we must do something to support Canadian
beef producers and move quality Canadian meat through
the retail system," said Janet Shanks, vice-president
of fresh foods from Costco's Canadian head office in
In a gesture of support for the Canadian beef industry,
A&W Food Services of Canada Ltd. today announced
that the company is moving to buy 100 per cent Canadian
beef to supply its 619 restaurants across Canada.
"Over recent weeks we have been working hard to
source sufficient lean beef in Canada to meet our total
needs, and we are delighted that we can now move to
converting to 100 percent Canadian beef," said
Trish Sahlstrom, A&W's vice president of purchasing
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2003. All Rights