BSE: Response to a U.K. Supermarket Executive on the topic of BSE

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The first video is about how a supermarket executive chose to respond to the BSE crisis.

The video at the bottom is about the UK government's 30 month rule introduced in the aftermath of the BSE crisis.

A Response to a UK Supermarket Executive

The video above can be elaborated upon. A supermarket attempted to re-assure the public in a similar way that the government unwisely attempted to reassure the public. It would have been better to have confronted the need for better animal welfare and human health. This would have helped improve food safety.

The presentation was based upon a comment made by a supermarket executive in a newspaper from May 1996. Information for this presentation comes from an academic paper, the BBC and the Justice for Andy website. Mechanically Recovered Meat may be relevant to the 2 million cattle which may have had BSE. Supermarkets have been criticized regarding BSE. The source for an academic paper on Mechanically Recovered Meat (MRM) was from the contradictions of food labelling policy, Information design Journal, 8/1, p. 3-16. It stated that "in 1995, MRM made from bovine backbone was banned from use in meat products in the UK because it may (have) contain(ed) traces of spinal cord".

BBC Video on Mechanically Recovered Meat

Concern over mechanically recovered, or separated, meat is wider than unease over food safety. M.R.M. can be safe; in terms of a low risk to the food consumer of suffering a food-borne disease. However, there could be problems over poor nutrition and inadequate animal welfare. A shortcoming of the U.K. Food Standards Agency is that its remit may be too narrow, as arguably it does not put enough emphasis on how animals are used as human meat. It is possible to have meat which is legal and can be safe but which is, frankly, disgusting. The BBC video above, could treat food and agricultural policy more seriously, but it does make a useful point.

Animal Welfare, BSE and the historical context

The book to look at is Jeremy Rifkin's 'Beyond Beef'. This is because the roots of BSE can be traced back to poor quality animal welfare in the 19th century. Animals were being treated as commodities which opened the way for further ill-treatment.

A Short Video on the Over 30 Month Rule after March 1996

This is a Powerpoint which looks at the Over 30 Month Rule and BSE testing. There was a safety breach for BSE testing which was discussed in a Guardian article, from 2006. In 2011, there was a Guardian article on extra restrictions on the movement of older cattle.

There is a BBC video on the lifting of the 30 Month Rule. Quotes from the BBC video report: "There is no way of knowing if you are eating older beef" ... "There is no requirement to label it at over 30 months" ... "The government is absolutely sure there is no danger".

There was an interesting document from DEFRA (Department of Environment and Food) which is no longer available on the internet. There was a significant point in the table on Page 16: "Cohort slaughtered for human consumption due to fraudulent use of ear tags or passports ... Not Known".

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BBC News Report from 27th May 1996 on 30 month rule (see the start of the report)