The few media mentions of Monday as fourth anniversary of the warning by former Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell commonly regarded as triggering the BSE crisis included the usual claims of a subsequent almost complete recovery in beef consumption. In fact, consumer worries had started in the 1980s, and a burst of bad publicity in late 1995 meant Dorrell was talking to already frightened shoppers. The reality now is national beef consumption still about 10% lower than in the early 1990s and nearly 20% below the 1980-85 average. Home production is much lower, mainly because possibly dangerous older cattle are destroyed. But the reduction is partly offset by the absence of exports, while import tonnage is little changed from 10 or 20 years ago. {{MEAT }}

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