POLITICS

Food safety agency working with game farmers to develop rules against disease

06/05/2015 03:49 EDT | Updated 06/05/2016 05:59 EDT
EDMONTON - Canada's food safety watchdog says it is developing rules with people who raise elk and deer on commercial farms to guard against animal diseases.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says voluntary standards are being developed with Agriculture Canada and an industry group called the Canadian Cervid Alliance.

The alliance website lists game farm associations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

The CFIA says a new biosecurity standard will set guidelines to reduce the risk of chronic-wasting disease and other animal diseases such as tuberculosis and brucellosis.

The agency says the new standards could take up to two years to develop.

Producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan have been dealing for years with chronic-wasting disease in farmed deer and elk — a fatal disease that experts have said may not be possible to eliminate.

The disease known as CWD has been spreading in the region and has also been found in wild deer and elk.

CWD is caused by abnormal proteins called prions and is similar to mad cow disease.

Experts say there is no scientific evidence to suggest that CWD can affect humans, but people have been cautioned to avoid meat infected by prions.

"Canadian cervid producers have a long-standing history of working hard to protect their herds from disease," the CFIA said Friday in a notice to the game farm industry.

"A national standard will build on this knowledge and help share best practices across the country to strengthen the industry as a whole."