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Alberta beef industry reacts to import bans after atypical mad cow disease case

Click to play video: '3 countries ban Canadian beef exports following discovery of mad cow disease on Alberta farm' 3 countries ban Canadian beef exports following discovery of mad cow disease on Alberta farm
WATCH: Three countries have banned Canadian beef exports after an atypical case of B.S.E., also known as mad cow disease, was found on an Alberta farm. As Jackie Wilson reports, the provincial government didn’t think the discovery would have any market impacts. – Jan 12, 2022

Alberta is famous for its beef, but a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) — commonly known as mad cow disease — found last month in the province has led to import bans from China, South Korea and the Philippines.

Read more: Canadian beef imports halted by China over atypical mad cow disease

The decision has some in the industry concerned.

“Anytime we lose markets for beef in Alberta, or Canada as a whole, it definitely causes some concern,” said Kevin Serfas.

Serfas owns a feed lot, Serfas Farms Ltd., outside of Turin, Alta., located northeast of Lethbridge.

“Anytime you hear BSE, no matter what type it is, it catches everyone’s interest,” Serfas added.

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Click to play video: 'China and Philippines suspend beef imports from Canada after BSE case discovered' China and Philippines suspend beef imports from Canada after BSE case discovered
China and Philippines suspend beef imports from Canada after BSE case discovered – Jan 12, 2022

China is the largest of the three beef markets and represents about five per cent of Canada’s $400-billion exports.

Its ban on Brazilian beef last year for a similar case lasted three months.

“Any disruption isn’t good. There is an amount of meat that’s moving to these places with the bans and it will create chaos in the short term. But I’m confident this will get worked through, hopefully in short time,” said Serfas.

Read more: Rare case of atypical mad cow disease reported in Alberta

There’s about two to three cases like this around the world each year, but this is Canada’s first in six years, according to Canadian Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president Dennis Laycraft.

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“In a case like this, the animal was found on a farm. The remains were contained and incinerated, so there’s no danger to food or feed. It’s kind of an open-and-shut case,” said Laycraft.

While Laycraft think there’s no reason for these trade restrictions, he says some countries are extra cautious and want additional information before opening imports.

Click to play video: 'A beef with beef? New survey sheds light on beef consumption in Canada' A beef with beef? New survey sheds light on beef consumption in Canada
A beef with beef? New survey sheds light on beef consumption in Canada – May 13, 2021

In a statement, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirms the case of atypical BSE was found in December 2021, and the animal was euthanized on the farm and did not enter the food or animal feed chain.

“Canada has proactively engaged with trading partners to provide information about this detection and maintain confidence in Canada’s safeguards against BSE,” the statement reads.

“A few trading partners (South Korea, Philippines and China) have asked Canada for additional information about the atypical BSE case and have either temporarily suspended imports from Canada or requested that Canada not certify exports for their market pending review of that information. A response with information on Canada’s BSE safeguards was provided to trading partners.”

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