Experts estimate the long-term costs of BSE in cattle to be close to 1100bn worldwide.

A study by an international group, led by professor Patrick Cunningham of Trinity College Dublin, criticised government supervision, farming methods and industry practices in the meat industry.

Professor Cunningham said: “BSE has been a calamity. The cost in money terms alone is staggering and makes it the most expensive disease that has ever struck the European cattle herd.”

The report for the European Association for Animal Production highlighted the fact the epidemic will be fully over in 10 years’ time.