Health Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Help the Government of Canada organize its food and nutrition web content! Complete an anonymous 5-minute questionnaire. Start now (link will open in new window).
Food and Nutrition

ARCHIVED - BSE (Mad Cow Disease)

Warning This content was archived on June 24 2013.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or "Mad Cow Disease" is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system found in cattle. It is linked to a rare, fatal disease in humans called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). Since the early 1990s, there have been approximately 180 cases of vCJD in Europe, linked to humans eating contaminated beef products from animals infected with BSE.

In Canada, there has been one case of vCJD. However, it was linked to the United Kingdom as this person lived there for an extended period of time during the peak of their BSE epidemic. There have been no cases of vCJD linked to eating Canadian beef.

In Canada, BSE continues to pose an extremely low risk to human health. Many steps have been taken to reduce the potential risks.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for animal health and for enforcing Health Canada's food safety regulations. They provide a broad range of Next link will take you to another Web site information about Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), including the latest updates on BSE in North America.

Both BSE and vCJD belong to a category of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other TSEs include scrapie in sheep and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. CFIA provides Next link will take you to another Web site information about TSEs.

Public Health Agency of Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada operates a comprehensive Next link will take you to another Web site CJD surveillance system to monitor the instances of both classical and variant CJD across the country. You can find the Next link will take you to another Web site latest information on vCJD in Canada on their site.

Archived Information from 2003

Government of Canada Actions on Specified Risk Material

Federal Regulations Amended to Enhance BSE Controls by Preventing Specified Risk Material (SRM) From Entering Food Supply

Statements by Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada