March 15, 2021


Canada's application for negligible risk status for BSE passes important milestone



Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, has announced on March 12 that Canada is one step closer to being recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as a negligible-risk country for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).


The Scientific Commission of the OIE has recommended to OIE delegates that Canada's application to change its status from a controlled-risk country for BSE to one of negligible risk fulfills the necessary requirements.


The recommendation has been sent to OIE Delegates who will officially vote on Canada's application at the next World Assembly of OIE Delegates General Session at the end of May 2021.


A change from "controlled" to "negligible" BSE-risk status would help secure and negotiate access for Canadian cattle and beef products to trade markets that require products to originate from negligible BSE-risk status countries.


Canada had worked closely with provinces and industry players to put forward a strong application based on data. It now awaits the World Assembly of OIE Delegate's final decision that is to be announced in May 2021.


"Today, beef producers can be pleased that Canada has taken an important step to being recognised as negligible risk for BSE," said Bibeau. "Although we still need to await the final vote, I am optimistic that this will soon allow them to expand their markets for cattle and beef exports to the US and other foreign markets. Our government will continue to stand up for our hard-working beef producers who provide top-quality products."


There are 182 permanent delegates of the OIE.


The CFIA's Dr. Jaspinder Komal is the OIE Delegate for Canada. He represents Canada on the international stage and plays an integral role in the country's participation in the OIE's standard-setting process for the development and adoption of animal health standards and guidelines.


Dr. Komal ensures that the standards are appropriately and consistently implemented in Canada, and is responsible for notifying the OIE of reportable animal disease occurrences in Canada.


Since 2007, Canada has been recognised by the OIE as a controlled BSE-risk country.


One of the OIE criteria for Canada to be categorised as a negligible BSE-risk country is to demonstrate that infected domestic animals were born more than 11 years prior.


The last case of BSE in Canada was in 2015 in a cow born in 2009.


The CFIA continues to lead on other initiatives to improve animal health, veterinary public health and animal welfare in the country.


The OIE also evaluated Canada's veterinary services and recognised Canada as a top-performing country for its veterinary services and a leading example in meeting international standards.


- Canadian Food Inspection Agency