OTTAWA, Ontario -- The Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food responsible for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said today that the new BSE case in the United States is a sign of responsible disease management, not higher disease risk.

"Based on information provided by officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, yesterday's confirmation of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) does not indicate an increased risk associated with American beef and live cattle," said Chuck Strahl.

"Since the first North American case was confirmed in 2003, Canadian and American experts have maintained that we are dealing with a low level of the disease and a small number of additional cases could be detected. The safeguards implemented by both countries are built on this understanding.

"Most important from a human health perspective," Strahl said, "Canada and the United States require the removal of potentially harmful tissues, known as specified risk material, from all cattle slaughtered for human consumption.

"This case, and others that may be found in the future, do not indicate that BSE in this part of the world is worsening. Rather, they are a reflection of government, industry and individual producer's commitment, on both sides of the border, to responsibly manage the disease," he said.

Strahl said he has asked Canadian officials to remain in close contact with their American counterparts to track the progress and findings of the United States' investigation.

"We have offered our help and are prepared to provide any assistance that may be required. Although the origin of the animal remains unconfirmed, to date we have received no requests to conduct any tracing of Canadian animals," he said.

"Canada and the United States have benefited from a close, productive relationship throughout the ongoing management of BSE. I look forward to continuing this collaborative approach."

SOURCE: Canadian Food Inspection Agency via CNNMatthews.