Mad Cow Disease Case Hidden For Weeks By Canadian and U.S. Agencies
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Mad Cow Disease Case Hidden For Weeks By Canadian and U.S. Agencies

By Nikki Zeichne on HuffingtonPost.com

The USDA claims that its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) determined that the risk presented here in trade in beef or cattle from Canada is negligible.

On February 25, 2010, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed a recent case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, in a 72 month-old cow.

This case was detected through the national BSE surveillance program and was not made public on the CFIA website until March 10 -- hours after a press release was distributed by the advocacy group, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (RCALF USA).

"The CFIA said the BSE-positive case was confirmed Feb. 25, 2010, which means the CFIA and all other governments who knew about this latest BSE case kept it a secret from the public for almost two weeks," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "If we had not discovered this information, the public may never have known."

According to a CFIA spokesperson, the Agency updates its website with cases of federally reportable diseases found in farmed animals once a month. Immediate updates are made only when it determines that there are reportable, foreign, or newly emerging diseases which pose significant health or economic risks.

The USDA claims that its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) determined that the risk presented here in trade in beef or cattle from Canada is negligible.

According to USDA spokesperson, Caleb Weaver, "APHIS followed international standards, as defined by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), in making this determination."

Both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the USDA admit that there is no way to test live animals for BSE; testing for BSE can only be done by postmortem microscopic examination of the animal's brain tissue. These tests are conducted on dead animals to detect the possibility of infection within a specific cattle population. BSE testing in Canada is voluntary and, according to Canadian Food Inspection Agency data, rates of BSE testing of cattle being exported to the U.S. are on the decline.

Recent USDA regulations permit live Canadian cattle born after March 1, 1999, to be imported into the United States without mandatory BSE testing. This means that the infected cow would have been eligible for import into the U.S. cattle market had it been alive.

Also on February 25, an Australian group, Cumberland Livestock Health and Pest Authority objected to beef imports from the U.S. and Canada, questioning their safety.



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