Specified Risk Material (SRM) Disposal

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. 

Click to continue reading about SRM Disposal including safe disposal options and regulations producers need to know.

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How to dispose of cattle mortalities: new video

How best to dispose of dead cattle is an important question. Some methods are better than others at controlling the spread of disease and preventing contamination of air or ground water.  After the advent of BSE in Canada, disposal through traditional channels such as rendering has become more expensive, and in some cases less available.

This episode of the Beef Research School features Dr. Kim Stanford, a researcher with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. The pros and cons of various alternatives for disposal of cattle mortalities are explained to help you decide which method might work best on your operation.  Dr. Stanford also explains how to start composting dead cattle any time of year. Continue reading

Can composting destroy BSE prions?



Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is believed to be caused by misfolded prion proteins. On the rare occasion of an infected animal, the prions will be present in particular tissues, known as specified risk materials (SRM), of the animal. Proper disposal of carcasses and SRM is important to control the spread of BSE and maintain Canada’s controlled BSE status with the OIE.

A recently-completed research project, funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, worked to determine whether composting can cost-effectively destroy prions. Continue reading