Canada has widened its safeguards against BSE or “mad cow disease” by banning the use of cattle brains, spinal cords, and certain other body parts from all animal feeds, pet foods, and fertilizer.
The rule will include all “specified risk materials” which means cattle parts that are likely to contain the BSE agent if the animal is infected. These include the skull, brain, eyes, tonsils, spinal cord, and certain nerve bundles of cattle 30 months or older.
Government officials say that this will speed up the elimination of BSE from cattle. Although, others say that this new rule will create a major-waste disposal problem and bureaucratic headaches.
Meanwhile, the US is considering copying the Canadian ban, but there is no effective date in sight. In October 2005, the FDA proposed banning the brains and spinal cords of older cattle from animal feed and pet food. Since then, the agency has been reviewing comments on the proposal.
“There is no estimated time frame on when a final rule will be published,” FDA spokesman Michael Herndon told CIDRAP News yesterday. “The agency is working to develop and issue a final rule as expeditiously as possible.” He said he couldn’t give any explanation for the delay.
In marking the advent of the new rules yesterday, Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Chuck Strahl said the government “has taken a significant step toward accelerating the elimination of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) from Canadian cattle. These new rules will help increase access to foreign markets, and support Canada’s status as a controlled risk country for BSE from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).”
A CFIA fact sheet says that with the broader feed ban, BSE is expected to be eliminated from Canadian cattle in about 10 years; without the new rules, eradication was expected to take several decades.
The ban means producers can no longer feed any products containing SRM to livestock, and slaughterhouses must identify SRM so they can be removed from the feed system, the CFIA said. In addition, those who handle, transport, or dispose of cattle carcasses and certain cattle tissues must have a CFIA permit.
“This system enables continuous control over SRM, so that it does not enter the animal feed system,” the agency said.
To help industry set up the infrastructure for SRM disposal, the Canadian government is providing $80 million for provincial disposal programs, the CFIA said. Most provinces have established such programs, for which they must provide 40% of the funding, with the federal government supplying the rest, according to the release.
The new restrictions are causing major headaches for the cattle industry, according to the CanWest News report.
The story said SRM must now be removed with special equipment, hauled away in dedicated trucks, processed, and then buried in landfills, burned in high-temperature incinerators, or dumped into composters and bioenergy plants.