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feed ban

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Feb 13, 2005
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Canadian Press, and Globe and Mail


CFIA confirms contaminated feed the source of last BSE case
Friday, February 11, 2005 Updated at 8:57 PM EST

Canadian Press

The investigation into the latest case of mad cow disease in Canada has concluded that feeds manufactured after a national feed ban likely spread the disease.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Friday that it's possible some cattle feed was contaminated with prohibited ruminant material as feed manufacturers moved to comply to the ban.

"This investigation identified that certain feed materials, likely manufactured a short time after the implementation of Canada's feed ban, may have been contaminated," it says in a report released Friday.

The investigation probed the Jan. 11 discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a nearly seven-year-old beef cow near Innisfail, Alta.

The cow was born just seven months after the ban was implemented in August 1997.

The rules banned cattle meat-and-bone meal from animal feed but allowed the continued use of meat and parts from other animals such as pigs.

The investigation determined the Innisfail cow was exposed to four commercial feed sources during its early development, but couldn't pinpoint the one that might have caused the infection.

Dr. Gary Little, the CFIA's acting senior staff veterinarian, said Friday that the finding didn't come as a surprise given the age of the cow.

"We were expecting this might be the kind of thing we might find," he said. "As unwelcome as it may be it is not inconsistent with our understanding of BSE exposure."

The conclusion that the last cow discovered was likely infected by contaminated feed after the ban hasn't stopped American officials from going ahead with plans to re-open the border to live Canadian cattle March 7.

Little said that's because it's known that feed bans aren't 100 per cent effective.

"It's not like you are just throwing a switch," Little said. "Certainly every country that has introduced a feed ban has been faced with the reality that it is phased in."

The report says it is clear that Canada's feed ban has been effective enough to limit the occurrence of BSE to an extremely low level and lead to elimination of the disease over time.

Alberta Agriculture spokeswoman Terry Willock said the conclusion of the report is not seen as a setback.

"We know that after the feed ban there was a time when producers could still use some of the feed that was manufactured and manufacturers could move that product through their systems," she said. "We knew there was a distinct possibility that could happen."

She called the report's conclusion ancient history.

"We're really confident the feed ban as it stands right now is definitely working."

The border has been closed to live Canadian cattle since May 2003 when the first of four BSE cases traced back to Alberta cattle was discovered.

The border closure has cost the Canadian beef industry an estimated $5 billion.

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