Memorandum - Inclusion of cattle crosses in the definition of cattle as it applies to BSE program policy, including SRM regulations and BSE surveillance

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December 5, 2011

400 Merivale Rd.
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9

To :
Veterinarians/Inspectors in Charge of Federally Registered Beef Slaughter/Processing Establishments, Regional Veterinary Officers, Area Red Meat Program Specialists, Specified Risk Material (SRM) Area Program Specialists, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) Area Program Specialists

By way of this memorandum, veterinarians and inspectors who are in charge of registered establishments are asked to share the information contained herein with the operators and/or managers of the establishments for which they are responsible. SRM program specialists are asked to share the information contained herein with their relevant provincial coordinators and/or counterparts.

The following provides clarification on what actions to take when dealing with cattle crosses as they apply to the specified risk material (SRM) regulations and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) policy.

Two sections of the Health of Animals Regulations (HofA Regulations) affect actions taken with respect to SRM and cattle crosses.

Under section 2:

cattle means animals of the species Bos taurus or Bos indicus.

Section 6.1 states as follows:

In this Part, specified risk material means the skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, tonsils, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia of cattle aged 30 months or older, and the distal ileum of cattle of all ages, but does not include material from a country of origin, or a part of a country of origin, that is designated under section 7 as posing a negligible risk for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

Concerns about the lack of a clear policy on cattle crosses and whether SRM regulations apply to these animals prompted a policy clarification for the definition of cattle, as it applies to the SRM regulations and BSE policy. The cattle definition (mentioned above) clearly exempts purebred bison and yaks from the SRM regulations, whereas actions regarding cattle crosses are less clear. A literature review conducted by the animal health risk assessment group on cattle crosses – specifically, cattle crossed with bison or yaks – concluded that there is insufficient evidence to indicate that cattle crosses differ significantly in susceptibility or resistance to BSE. Thus, a conservative and inclusive approach with respect to BSE was recommended.

The cattle definition in the HofA Regulations will be interpreted broadly to include animals of the species Bos taurus and Bos indicus, and any animal that is the result of a cross with a Bos taurus or Bos indicus animal. All cattle crosses, therefore, will be subject to SRM guidelines and BSE policy. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection personnel will perform categorization of crosses by phenotypic (observable physical characteristics) examination. To challenge the inspector's phenotypic categorization for any possible disagreement, industry must provide documented proof of purebred status (e.g. yak or bison registration).

For any questions pertaining to this memorandum, please contact your National BSE program specialists, Dr. Bachir Djillali and Dr. Heather Brown, or your National Red Meat Specialist, Dr. Rajiv Arora.

Thank you for your consideration of this memorandum.

Original signed by:

Dr. Penny Greenwood
National Manager
Disease Control and Animal Welfare
Terrestrial Animal Health Division

Dr. Martin Appelt
National Veterinary Program Manager
Policy Development
Meat Programs Division

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