Canada releases feed findings

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jan 24, 2005
by WLJ
Random tests conducted by the Canadian government recently discovered that four brands of Canadian cattle feed were in violation of the nation’s ban on animal protein in cattle feed. With the increasing number of cases of BSE being discovered in Canada, the Canadian Food (CFIA) Inspection Agency and two U.S. trade teams are taking a more thorough look into the compliance with the 1997 ban on ruminant-to-ruminant feeding.
In total, 110 samples were collected between January and March of 2004. Microscopic examinations of these samples distinguished animal material in 66 of the 110 samples. Sergio Tolusso, CFIA’s feed program coordinator, said in some of these cases, animal material was found in feed ingredients such as cereals and cereal screenings that could be used in feeds for ruminants. In the other cases, animal materials were detected in feedstuffs manufactured for ruminants such as beef and dairy cattle feeds, as well as sheep.
Because of these results, Canadian officials decided to inspect feed mills. Upon completion of the inspections, Tolusso said, “There were some cases where it was more likely than others that it could be ruminant protein.”
Tolusso later said with the test they used (feed microscopic analysis), they could not positively identify the protein material as bovine, or any species, therefore no feed was recalled.
CFIA is still looking into the test results and plans to release more detailed information on their findings in the next week or two. In the meantime, Tolusso said, “We are looking at four cases where we thought it (the protein material) could be material of ruminant origin.”
Canada is not entirely to blame for these discovered violations. According to Tolusso, 45 of the samples they took were of imported origin, and some of those feeds did originate in the U.S.
“We have some information on the source of the feeds,” said Tolusso. “As this was not a compliance exercise, our approach to get information was to contact the feed importers and get them to approach their suppliers (exporters) for additional information. We are still in the process of compiling that information.”
When asked if Canada will continue to import feed from those suppliers, Tolusso replied, “Unlike the FDA action against Canadian feed exporters in 2003, we do not have any immediate plans to sanction any feed exporters on the basis of the findings of this test trial.”
Canada does have plans to ban the use of bovine specified risk material in all feed, not just in feed labeled for cattle and sheep. This proposal is out for public comment, but has not yet come into effect.
Similar to the U.S., Canada did ban the use of ruminants in feed for cattle and other ruminants in 1997. This is known as the ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, but Canadian feed mills were still allowed to use these products in feed for chicken and pigs. Chicken and pig remains can also be fed to cattle.
Micheal McBane, a member of the lobbyist group Canadian Health Coalition, told the Canadian press, “Even after confirming cases of BSE, we’re still not cleaning up the feed system. We’re basically playing Russian roulette and for what benefit? The export market has been closed and we’re still being caught with contaminated feed.”
Tolusso down-played the idea that any of this feed could lead to the spread of BSE in Canada. He said there was little risk that the ruminant remains in the tainted feeds were infected with BSE because the incidence of the disease in Canada is low.
Furthermore, Tolusso explained that comprehensive inspections of feed mills are conducted once a year. A spokeswoman for federal Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell, Christine Aquino said regular inspections and audits of the country’s 550 feed mills have shown “a very high compliance” with the feed ban.
Tolusso said the detailed report of their feed testing trial will be posted on their website when it is available.