Waste Management Facilities: Requirements for Disposing of Cattle Material

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On July 12, 2007, enhanced animal health safeguards came into effect to help eliminate bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, from Canada. Certain cattle tissues capable of transmitting BSE, known as specified risk material (SRM), are banned from all animal feeds, pet foods and fertilizers. There are also requirements for anyone disposing of cattle remains.

A CFIA permit is required to accept and dispose of:
  • deadstock cattle containing SRM;
  • meat and bone meal (MBM) made from deadstock cattle or SRM; and
  • compost made from deadstock cattle or SRM.

Application for permit

What are SRM?

SRM are defined as:

  • the skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia (nerves attached to the brain), eyes, tonsils, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (nerves attached to the spinal cord) of cattle aged 30 months or older; and
  • the distal ileum (portion of the small intestine) of cattle of all ages.
From a CFIA perspective, SRM should neither be considered nor managed as "hazardous material".  Using Transport Canada's classification system, samples of SRM sent to laboratories for routine bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance testing are not deemed to be hazardous material, thus SRM in general should be classified in the same manner.

Requirements for accepting and disposing of SRM

Any waste management facility choosing to accept SRM in any form must first apply to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for a permit. There are specific construction and operating requirements for facilities handling this material.

Disposal must either destroy or permanently contain SRM. Proposed disposal procedures must be assessed by the CFIA to present, at most, only a very low risk of potential BSE transmission.

Permits will only be issued after a CFIA inspector has determined that all requirements have been met.

A CFIA permit is also required to transport any SRM, including cattle carcasses containing SRM. A visible stripe must be applied down carcasses' backs, and all SRM must be stained. Waste management facilities must not accept cattle deadstock or SRM in any form from anyone not possessing a CFIA permit.

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