Healthy Living

20 Biggest Health Scandals in Recent History

13. The mad cow disease outbreak in the 1980s caused Britain to slaughter 80,000 cows

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease in cattle that can then be transferred to humans when the infected meat is consumed.

The first diagnoses of BSE disease in cattle was made in 1986, and two years later Britain made it a notifiable disease. In the same year, Britain decided that all cows that were known to be infected with BSE had to be destroyed.

In 1989, Britain banned the intake of certain parts of the cow that were most likely to spread BSE. In 1996, the British government announced that BSE could indeed be transferred to humans, but in the form of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease. As a result, Britain offered to slaughter up to 80,000 cows to eliminate the disease.

While there have been certain cases of outbreaks, the disease is extremely rare and only 6 cases have occurred in North America, despite the extreme reliance on beef.