Swiss help Canadians battle BSE

Related tags Bse Type i and type ii errors

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is using technology
developed by Prionics, a Swiss-based company, as part of its
ongoing BSE surveillance programme. The firm's Prionics-Check
Western rapid BSE test was extensively used during the country's
BSE investigation last year, and now three CFIA laboratories have
been equipped with the Prionics test.

"Reliable BSE testing is a proven method for monitoring the beef supply and boosting consumer confidence,"​ said Prionics president Bruno Oesch. "We are proud that Canada has selected Prionics to help bolster the country's detection system."

Prionics claims that its product is considered by many animal health authorities to be one of the most accurate rapid-test procedures for BSE. To date, more than 18 million cattle samples worldwide have been tested using this technology. The company says that no false positive results have been recorded.

"It is critical to get a BSE test right the first time,"​ said Oesch. "This is particularly important for BSE-free countries or countries with a low BSE incidence because the resulting loss of confidence from consumers and trading partner countries, triggered by a false positive, can have disastrous consequences. One of the striking advantages of our technology is that it is the only rapid BSE test that does not deliver a false positive."

An additional benefit of the Prionics test system is that it is the only one of its kind suitable for detecting BSE in both cattle that are processed for consumption as well as so-called 'downer' cows - injured animals that are not destined for human consumption.

"A breakthrough feature of our test is that its performance is not hampered when partly or fully degraded tissue samples are used for testing,"​ said Oesch. "Such sub-optimal samples are typically encountered in surveillance programs focusing on downer cattle."

Prionics has over 50 per cent share of the world market for BSE testing - more than 18 million out of 30 million cattle have been tested with Prionics BSE rapid tests. BSE-free countries like Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile - as well as most European countries that test for BSE - have adopted this technology in agreement with guidelines established by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Prionics​, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is an ISO 9001-certified company with production facilities in Switzerland and the US.

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