You wouldn’t know from its current aspirational status that British beef not so long ago went off the menu worldwide, reports Brunswick’s Jon McLeod.
This is not a story for vegetarians. in 1996, in the United Kingdom, a metaphorical bomb went off in the UK beef farming industry when health and agriculture ministers confirmed the existence of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in British livestock. Not just that—it was transmissible to humans and could cause a crippling degenerative disease, CJD, that ate away at the human brain and led to a terrible death.
British beef went off the menu worldwide. The industry faced total collapse. The Roast Beef of Old England, that most iconic of dishes, was literally toxic.