CANADA'S feed control measures are under inspection after a third case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was confirmed in a six-year-old beef cow, adding further pressure to the resumption of its beef and cattle trade with the US.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the second case of BSE was found in December in a dairy cow which had been exposed to feed rations containing meat and bone meal.
Based on records of feed purchase and use, the CFIA discovered the feed was produced before the 1997 feed ban, when the inclusion of meat and bone meal in ruminant feeds was allowed.
The 37 live animals from the animal's birth group were tested for BSE, with 15 cattle placed under individual animal quarantines. Investigators are collecting information about the feed used on the farm of origin by tracing records and investigating feed retailers and manufacturers.
The US' National Cattlemens Beef Association (NCBA) is concerned about the resumption of Canadian live cattle imports.
This week, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will send a task force to Canada to investigate feed control measures.
NCBA will also send a trade team to evaluate its BSE firewalls and inspection process. It plans to use this information to make a decision on whether to pursue or delay trade with Canada.
Canada's Alberta premier Ralph Klein has called for a cull of some of the 1.76 million animals born before Canada's 1997 feed ban.
The Canadian Cattlemens Association and Alberta Cattle Feeders support the cull because they believe it will send a strong message to the US, where many ranchers are fighting plans to reopen the border to Canadian cattle.
The CFIA insists Canadian beef is safe without the proposed cull because the ban had limited the spread of BSE.
US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said the latest diagnosis of BSE had changed nothing and the plan to re-open the border to Canadian cattle on March 7 would stay on schedule.
Canada has committed to increasing the number of cows it tests for BSE. In 2003, it tested one in 1000 Canadian cows. Over the next five years, it plans to test one in 110 cows.
In Britain, Germany, France and Japan, cattle are tested for BSE from 24 to 30 months of age.
Critics claim more cases of BSE would be found if more Canadian cattle were tested.