China suspends Canadian beef imports after mad cow discovery

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CALGARY – A cattle industry group says it is hopeful a newly imposed import ban on Canadian beef by China and two other Asian countries will be temporary.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association confirmed Tuesday that China – which imports approximately $170 million of Canadian beef annually, making it the industry’s third-largest global market – has halted imports of beef from Canada following the discovery of an atypical case of BSE, or mad cow disease, on an Alberta farm last month.

South Korea, which is worth about $90 million per year to Canada’s beef industry, as well as the Philippines – which imports about $13 million in Canadian beef annually – have also suspended imports.

“I wouldn’t say it’s surprising, though we were hoping this wouldn’t happen,” said Dennis Laycraft, executive director of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “We’re hopeful that these will be very short in duration, but it’s a foreign regulator that you’re dealing with, in different time zones and different languages.”

The detection of the atypical case, which was announced in December, is Canada’s first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in six years.

Atypical BSE develops spontaneously in about one in every one million cattle. It has been reported six times in the U.S., most recently in 2018, as well as a number of other countries.

Unlike the classic BSE strain, which has been linked to the fatal neurological disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, atypical BSE poses no health risk to humans and is not transmissible.

The Alberta government stated in December when it announced the discovery of the case that it was “not expected to have market impacts.”



by Amanda StephensonThe Canadian Press

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