The term specified risk material (SRM) refers to parts of cattle that could potentially contain the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent (prion) in an infected animal. The transferrable BSE agent in BSE-infected cattle has been found to concentrate in specific tissues that are part of the central nervous and lymphatic systems, such as the skull, brain, spinal cord, nerves, and tonsils.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) defines SRM as: “The skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia (nerves attached to the brain), eyes, tonsils, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (nerves attached to the spinal cord) of cattle aged 30 months or older; and the distal ileum (portion of the small intestine) of cattle of all ages.”
The CFIA indicates that the carcasses of condemned cattle and cattle deadstock (of any age) that contain SRM must be treated as SRM. Even inedible material mixed with SRM, such as floor waste or recovered solids from waste water, must also be treated as SRM. More information on the CFIA definition of SRM can be found online here.
BSE is not a ‘contagious disease’. It is transmitted through the consumption of animal by-products or feed contaminated with BSE prions. Since the BSE prions have not been shown to accumulate in muscle or milk, animal products that do not contain SRM do not transmit the disease.
Safely managing BSE – and the cattle tissues designated as SRM where BSE-causing prions concentrate – is an important goal for consumers, cattle producers and the Canadian beef industry.
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