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R-CALF USA Responds to Latest Canadian BSE Case

Group urges consumers to push grocers to provide country of origin labeling.

According to R-Calf, at just over six years of age, the Canadian cow confirmed with BSE would have been born in 2004 and infected with BSE either in 2004 or 2005. They say this provides absolute evidence that the BSE agent was circulating in Canada's feed system long after USDA declared that Canada had its BSE problem under control. R-Calf says the Canadian government notified USDA officials about this latest case in February, but did not plan on publicizing the fact until March 10 when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency posts its next monthly animal disease report.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard asks why the United States, which annually imports hundreds of thousands of Canada's high-risk cattle, is the last to know when BSE is detected in Canada's cattle herd. Like this case, the BSE-positive animal detected in 2010 was kept a secret by USDA, and the public was not informed until R-CALF USA issued a news release almost two weeks after the disease's confirmation.

R-CALF USA Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group's animal health committee, points out that consumers, now more than ever, should be telling their grocers they want the products in the meat counter labeled with country-of-origin information so they can decide on their own whether to avoid products from countries with ongoing disease problems, particularly now that USDA chooses not to disclose such important disease information.

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