As the true depth of the BSE
epidemic comes to light in Europe, just-food.com has compiled a global
calendar of events connected to the spread of the disease.
It is widely argued that
the crisis unravelled after changes were made to the production of cattle feed
during the 1980s. The process of rendering, using animal remains in feed, has
been widespread since the 1920s, however scientists believe that due to changes
such as a ban on the use of solvents and lower temperatures during manufacture
over 60 years later, a strain of the sheep disease scrapie found its
way into the cattle troughs.
This is how the crisis unfolded
and a concise guide to the measures implemented to deal with the disease across
the world, including action taken within the EU, in particular in the UK, and
in the US by the US Department of Agriculture/APHIS, the Food and Drug Administration
and the United States Livestock Industry:
disease scrapie is first recorded in sheep
|1883||A vet in
France reports the first case of scrapie in a cow.
of rendering, using remains from slaughterhouses for animal feed, is more
of "classical" Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) reported.
of New Guinea cannibals found to carry Kuru, a transmissible spongiform
argue that it was at this time that scrapie "jumped" the species
barrier from sheep to cattle after changes in the rendering process and
BSE was born.
|1984||(Dec)||Farmer Peter Stent,
from Midhurst, West Sussex, contacts a vet after one of his cows starts
of BSE in the UK. US halt imports of British Beef from UK processing plants
dies after head tremors, weight loss and poor coordination. Symptoms identified
in clinical report as "novel progressive spongiform encephalopathy
|(Sept)||Carol Richardson, of
UK Government’s Central Veterinary Laboratory, issues post-mortem report
on brain tissue from a cow on Stent’s farm.
|1986||(Nov)||First case of mad cow
disease (BSE) formally identified in the UK
|1987|| UK government
informed that meat and bone meal is "only a viable hypothesis for cause
established by UK government to investigate BSE, it concludes that animal
feed is probably responsible for spread.
|(June)||Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
Order in UK bans certain types of meal
|(July)||18: UK ban on ruminant
meat and bone meal (MBM) in cattle feed
|(Aug)||UK government announces
decision to slaughter all BSE-affected cattle
mandate removal of specified cattle offal in abattoirs
|(July)||Europe export ban on
British cattle born before July 1988 and offspring of diseased animals.
|(Nov)||UK ban on use of high-risk
offal (brain, spinal cord, spleen) for human consumption.
|USDA/ APHIS enacts
emergency ban on the importation of most ruminant products from countries
with confirmed cases of BSE.
establishes National CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh to monitor cases
and investigate link with BSE.
microbiological review of human drugs from bovine sources.
|(May)||Prof. Richard Lacey
calls for slaughter of infected herds.
|British cattle exports
to EC restricted to those less than six months old.
|Tory agricultural minister
John Gummer feeds beef burger to four-year-old daughter on TV to prove British
beef is "completely safe." She refuses it.
|1991||(Dec)||Formal regulation by
USDA/APHIS to restrict importation of ruminant meat and edible products
and ban most by-products of ruminant origin from countries known to have
expand BSE surveillance program to include examination of brain tissue from
|(Jan)||1,000 new BSE cases
reported every week in Britain
|(July)||Peak of epidemic when
100,000th case of BSE confirmed in Britain.
of CJD in British dairy farmers who had BSE in their herds.
implement immunohistochemistry-testing method for BSE.
meat recovered mechanically from cattle backbones entering food chain.
|(May)||21: Stephen Churchill,
first known vCJD victim, dies aged 19. Three more people die this year.
|1996||(March)||20: Health secretary
Stephen Dorrell officially announces a "probable link" between
the cattle disease BSE and 10 cases of what seem to be vCJD.
|27: EC subsequently
imposes worldwide ban on British beef exports.
29: US livestock/animal
|(April)||UK government launches
legal challenge to export ban and proposes destruction of 4.6m cattle.
|(Aug)||Oxford University report
says BSE in decline and will peter out by 2001.
|(Sep)||France bans cosmetics
sales containing British beef derivatives.
|(Oct)||PM John Major declares
British beef "perfectly safe" to eat.
|(Dec)||Chief medical officer
admits UK government could have done more.
by local UK councils in around 2,000 schools.
|(Jan)||FDA proposes a ban
on the use of ruminant products in livestock feed.
|(Mar)||Cull of 100,000 cattle
in UK begins.
calves are passed BSE and susceptibility to infection.
|(May)||EU Agriculture Commissioner
Franz Fischler announces ban on all offal from food chains to protect public
|UK government threatens
to ban beef imports from countries that do not follow British abattoirs’
|(June)||2: FDA regulation bans
use of most mammalian protein in animal feed.
|Estimates that BSE
could cost GB over £4bn
|EU begins action against
10 member countries for breaching BSE rules.
|(Sep)||Studies on mice show
convincing evidence for link between vCJD and BSE.
|(Dec)||GB: Beef on the bone
ban; one-off compensation to beef farmers of £85m;
see farmer demonstrations against cheaper beef imports
|USDA/APHIS bans imports
of live ruminants from Europe until BSE risks examined.
campaign launched to restore confidence in British beef.
|(Mar)||Public enquiry on link
between BSE and vCJD opens in London, EU ministers approve end of export
ban on BSE-free herds in Northern Ireland.
diagnosis and information given to vCJD victims
|24: Cooperative agreement
between USDA/APHIS and Harvard University’s School of Public Health to evaluate
BSE prevention measures.
|(June)||N. Ireland resume exports,
first UK beef sold abroad since March 1996. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
Order passed to ban certain meals
|EC recommends end of
export ban on British beef born after August 1996.
|(July)||UK Government’s slaughter
policy for animals showing BSE symptoms
|1999||(Aug)||EC lifts British beef
ban, but France continues to enforce the embargo. (Nov) UK beef-on-the-bone
|2000||(Feb)||Baby girl born to a
mother with vCJD is found to have the disease.
|(April)||3,000 tests on human
tonsil/appendix samples show no vCJD prions.
Leics, UK, investigated after "cluster" of CJD cases
|(Oct)||French President Jacques
Chirac demands stronger BSE measures when potentially tainted meat found
on supermarket shelves.
|UK Government releases
results of BSE inquiry, criticising former officials for playing down risks
and failing to coordinate a government response. Death of a 74-year-old
British man, oldest known victim of vCJD, sparking renewed fears about the
extent of the illness.
temporarily ban beef in restaurants and school canteens
|15: French beef on
the bone and meat in livestock feed ban.
|17: CJD victims’ families
file lawsuit against EU authorities; Italy bans import of beef on the bone
and adult cows from France.
|23: First case of BSE
detected in Spain
|24: 2 cases of BSE
in German cows confirmed. One was exported to BSE -free Azores, where all
cattle imported recently will now be slaughtered.
|(Dec)||3: GB government ban
| 14: BSE expert declares
British beef safer than French
|2001||(Jan)||5: Australia and New
Zealand announce total ban on beef and beef products from 30 European countries
due to BSE fears.
|8: German agriculture
minister Karl-Heinz Funke and health minister Andrea Fischer, resign over
mistakes made during their handling of the BSE crisis.