Outlines the scientific evidence surrounding the occurrences of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and Creutzfeldt‐Jakob Disease (CJD) in the UK. Examines the background to and development of the recent outbreaks and their possible causes. Looks in detail at the role of prions, the encephalopathy infective agent, the origins of the disease and its transmission in cattle and the controls which have been introduced to minimize the impact of the disease. Examines the evidence as to whether BSE can be transmitted to humans in the form of V‐CJD (variant Creutzfeldt‐Jakob Disease), in the light of the UK government announcement of 20 March 1996 that eating infected beef products was the most likely cause. Briefly discusses which parts of BSE‐infected cattle carry the infective agent, measures taken which affect the food chain and research which is being undertaken in the field. Concludes that muscle meat, milk and milk products and tallow from British beef are safe within the normal meaning of the term.
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